Tuesday, August 23, 2011


That stands for Best Ribs In The Universe. Not modest, are they? ;) I got the recipe from The Virtual Weber Bullet. It's a little different for me since I usually don't put salt or much sugar in my rubs, but I thought it was worth a try.

RANT - I hate recipes that specify chili powder. That's mostly because I do not have any on the shelf. It's easy enough to make with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano ... Why not just list those ingredients instead? Is there something magical about letting some spice packager mix it? They probably add the magic salt. IMO it's like listing "cake mix" as an ingredient for a cake recipe. /RANT

Also I'm not slavishly following the recipe as so many have recommended. I skipped the MSG in the rub. I guess I should call my variation  NRBITU (Next Best Ribs ...) I'm also not going to run out to buy KC Masterpiece sauce when I've got perfectly good Sweet Baby Ray's on the shelf.

I got two cryovac packages (3 racks each) of baby backs from Caputos for a total of 15¾ lb of baby backs. I will add a third grate to my WSM so I can lay them all flat. I've also cut the racks of ribs in half to make them easier to arrange on the round grates. It's nice to put a whole rack on a platter to serve, but I'm making these as a 'bring along' to a corn roast so they'll be sliced down to individual bones once I'm done. It turned out that 6 racks fit well on three grates with four half racks on each grate.

There are two more grates under the top one.

At about 9:30 AM I got the rub on the ribs just as the storm moved in. Weather is not really with me today. We might even get a tornado. I'm going to situate the cooker in front of the garage and maybe pull it under the overhang for some rain protection. I have two hours to get the smoker ready and the fire lit. The rain should last longer than that.

Weather at the time the meat went on: 71° (From the meat probe on the Maverick.) Light rain tapering off and wind light at 10 mph.

timetemp comment
12:45 PM
Coals on a Minion lay using some BK Blue, some lump and some Stubbs Briquettes. Poured about a gallon of hot water into the bowl.
Temp hit 210° on the remote so I put the meat on and closed two of three bottom vents.
1:21214°/185°Temperature had recovered higher about 15 minutes ago and seems to be dropping so I opened another bottom vent about half way.
1:47242°/205°Climbing slowly.
2:31236°/???Temps seem to be wandering up and down. Ambient reads 86° F. Must be in the sun.
2:51267°/215°Temps jumped as a new storm cell starts passing through. Probably a reaction to the wind providing extra air for combustion. I'll leave it be for now as the rain will likely cool the smoker.
3:00209°Heaviest rain  yet has taken cooker temps down.  Radar shows us about the middle of the storm cell.
3:15212°Rain has stopped and temps are recovering after dipping below 200°.
3:58227°/215°First peek - ribs look good and there is no pulling back on the bone as of yet.  As per directions, all bottom vents open full for rest of cook. Temp is already climbing.
4:35303°/215°Quick peak -
4:50267°/215°Temp drooping a bit - stirred coals and threw in a couple more pieces of wood.
5:06276°Temp starting to recover a bit. And it sure smells good!
6:28228°/245°Need to peek! Surprisingly the ribs in the top rack were not done. They didn't flex that much when picked up. They resisted a bamboo skewer poke. And they measured about 155° between the bones. But they are fairly meaty ribs. So I closed the smoker back up, stirred the coals and left it to continue the smoke.
7:43256°/245°Meat off! As I took the ribs off, I sauced them with 4:1 Sweet Baby Ray's and honey.

"(grate/dome)" refers to the Maverick ET-73 remote reading vs. the Weber thermometer in the lid.

Comments on Quantities:
  • 6 racks of ribs fit well on three grates when cut in half.
  • I doubled the recipe for the rub and that was just right.
  • I made 2½ C BBQ sauce and that was about triple what I needed, but I bottled the rest in a squeeze bottle to be used as a condiment when they are served.
Initial taste impressions: These are good. They don't seem too hot but they leave a hot sensation in your mouth. Maybe I should lighten up on the cayenne if I use this rub again. Overall, I'm not sure this is much better than the rub I usually use which has no salt or sugar and includes rosemary, fresh garlic and oil. (And no chili powder!) Overall, this seems to be a more conventional recipe.

Having three grates in the WSM worked well. They're spaced almost 4" apart and that seems to be good spacing for ribs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pork Butt and Beef Brisket

They both looked so good in the meat case at Sam's. :D
I got a 17 ¼ lb package consisting of two trimmed butts. Add to that a 6 1/3 lb brisket (flat cut) and a 5 lb package of raw Usinger brats to fill any empty space on the grate.
Brisket on the coffee rub at 4:30 PM the day before the smoke .I use the coffee rub described by Steven Raichlen.
The ingredients he lists include
  • 3 tablespoons ground coffee
  • 1 tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
I did not lay any strips of bacon on the brisket since it has a pretty thick fat cap. For paprika, I used Hungarian Paprika.

I'm also using his mop recipe minus the beer. I haven't bought any beer since we got back from vacation. One of these days... It's certainly beer weather.

Seasonings for the pork are:
  • 1 Tbsp black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika.
  • 1 Tbsp ground Sage
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
  • Almost a full garlic bulb (crushed.)

Fire on the big smoker is mostly left over lump and briquettes from previous smokes. Included in them is some chunks of smoking wood. I added some briquettes and some Hickory, Cherry and Box Elder to round things out.
Weather conditions at 10:00 AM: 84° F, sunny and wind light at about 7 mph.
timetemp comment
10:00 AM
Lit coals on fire lay.
10:20220°/200° (grate/dome)Meat on! It all seems to fit on the big smoker, though the two pieces of pork barely made it. Corners are almost touching the middle section but they'll pull back as the cook proceeds. I added some brats around the brisket.

At this time I also closed two of three bottom vents.
10:35194°Noticed that I forgot the meat probe in the beef so I opened the smoker to insert it in the brisket. It looks to be getting off to a nice slow start.
10:55215°/180°/71° (grate/dome/meat)
Coming along nice and slow.
First mop of the brisket. Swapped in a bunch of raw brats. The brats that came off measured from 120°-145° internally so they will need more cooking (probably when they are reheated.) I suspected they were not done by the limited amount of shrinkage. I'll leave the next batch for 2 hours.
Fast recovery probably due to opening the smoker twice for mopping and brats. If it doesn't drop off, I may close the bottom vent a tiny bit. But let's not be hasty!
12:16243°/215°/137°Nice progress. No adjustment required. (and I just had a brat with onion and Dijon mustard on whole wheat - Yum!)
1:00250°/225°/152°Ambient temp is now 90°. Mopped brisket again, turned the brats - almost done, and closed the remaining open bottom vent to about 1/2 from full open. Will need to monitor in case that's too much.
1:16252°/?/155°Looks OK.
1:30248°/235°/158Going to pull the brats and put more on.
1:42240°/?/160°Temps came up a bit (255°+) and then began to settle once again. If I see it drop below 220° I'll intervene.
1:58233°/?/161°Temp bottomed at 229° and now begins a slow recovery. Looks like no adjustment needed.
2:29241°/?/165°Time to mop and turn the brats.
3:20241°/210°/167°Time to pull the remaining brats off the fire. Outside temp is 91° F, wind freshened a bit to 7 mph and still full sun.
3:57234°/?/168°That's 5 hours on the brisket. What temp should I shoot for?
4:19228°/215°/169°Time to open the bottom vent a wee bit.
4:49223°/?/170°I think I need to stir the coals a bit. maybe not - temp just popped up to 226°.
5:09222°/?/170°Heading out to stir the coals.
5:35274°/225°/172°Seems like stirring the coals had the desired effect and I just closed the bottom vent a little bit. I'd like to keep the grate below 250°.
6:09240°/?/176°And all seems well.
7:35207°/180°/167°Sheesh! Go for a little bicycle ride and temp drops off... Stirred coals and opened one bottom vent full. Looks like temp is recovering. I wonder if I should just take the brisket off and rest it.
7:58199°/170°/165°Doesn't look like recovery is going to happen w/out more coals so I'm bringing the brisket in to rest. I'll swap the meat probe to the pork to see where it is.
8:06172°/?/162°Probe in the bigger butt. I need to add some more lit charcoal.
Added about 1/2 chimney partially lit briquettes. Went back to one bottom vent about half open. Let's see where she goes. (I love using a charcoal chimney on my old Coleman propane side burner.)
9:07233°/225°/161°Recovery is slow but there is no hurry.
Check that. Thunder storms are on the horizon and I can see lightening. Heavy rain can have a big cooling effect on the smoker and if that happens, I may finish the butts foiled in the oven.
9:25235°/230°/163°First drops of rain starting. I opened all bottom vents full to try to offset the cooling effect from the rain. Ambient is reported as 86° right now.
9:32246°/?/164°Heavy wind driven rain just started.
9:47189°/?/165°Still raining, but radar shows a single line of storms that will hopefully pass so I can continue my smoke.
9:54204°/?/166°Rain letting up. Still smoking! Ambient now reported as 75°.
10:14228°/?/168°Looks like meat's back on the menu boys!

(Closing down one bottom vent, leaving 2 of three wide open.)
11:53228°/?/179°Perhaps I should stir the coals again...
12:08 AM245°/?/181°Looks like stirring helped.

Time to bring the meat in. I'll foil it and put it in a cooler to rest/cool overnight and then pull it in the AM. Some of the meat fell off on the bottom where it stuck to the grate. That may just be the best tasting part of the entire butt!

The brisket was still firm but juicy. Perhaps it would be more tender if brought to a higher temperature, but I'd risk drying. I'm pretty satisfied with it in it's present state. It tastes really good. I also made a batch of the Red Eye Sauce and it goes with this really well. (I substituted non-fat sour cream for the heavy cream. Last time I used skim milk + butter. That other batch came out more red color while this one is sort of tan color.)

The butt was on about 14 /2 hours which seems about right. It took a bit of fiddling to keep the fire going and I had to deal with a rain storm, but all's well that ends well and from the few little tastes I had of the but, it's going to end well.

Atomic Buffalo Turds

Basically JalapeƱos stuffed with cheese and meat and smoked

Recipe from The Virtual Weber forum.

About 2lb. fresh Jalapinos
2 8oz blocks cream cheese(room temp)
1C shredded sharp cheddar
1 heaping tblsp dry onion
1tblsp. granulated garlic
1/2 c or more Pulled pork or fine chopped little smokies
1 or 2 tblsp. Honey. (secret ingridient)
bbq rub
2 lb bacon thinner the better

Cut peppers in half lenth wise scoop out seeds and membrain set aside. Set bacon out and let come to room temp. Mix all remaining ingridients except bbq rub throughly. Fill peppers with mixture. Cut bacon in half. Wrap half slice around each pepper. (I do not use tooth picks to hold together. The bacon holds together well if it is at room temp.)Sprinkle with bbq rub. I like to refridgerate overnight. Cook at about 225 - 250 untill bacon is done about 1 hour.

I made about half a batch with 8 oz of no-fat cream cheese and about 6 oz. sharp cheddar which I shredded. For sausage I got some spicy smoked sausage and cut them in thirds and the resulting pieces lengthwise in quarters. After cleaning and stuffing the pepper halves with the cheese mix I put one sausage piece on each and wrapped with half a slice of bacon.

7:45 Coals in the mini with some chunks of hickory.
7:55Turds on! I lit all of the charcoal in a chimney so the smoker shot up to temp. 300° F before I cut the bottom vent from the initial 1/2 to about 1/4.
8:06249°/275° (grate/dome)Off to a good start.
8:23242°Quick peak and they look good!

They came out pretty good.