Saturday, October 8, 2011

This weekend's big smoke

(Note - this is a work in progress. I'm going to publish as I go so at present it is not polished and certainly not finished!)

I get carried away. I was looking for something to smoke and yesterday morning I saw a corned beef brisket at a decent price at Caputos. I've been wanting to try it so I bought a small one - about 2 1/2 lb. I was really looking for some pork, but I didn't see anything there that appealed to me. (No spare ribs, no butts.)

Later in the day we went to Sam's Club. There I saw huge slabs of cryovac pork spare ribs. So I grabbed two. Later I saw big double packages of butts so I grabbed one of them and returned one of the spares to the case. (A man's got to know his limitations - along with that of his smoker.) Today my limitations are 18 lbs of butts and 14 1/2 lb spare ribs.

Weather - at 10:10 AM it is a pleasant 70° F with a south wind at about 10 mph. It will probably remain sunny with an expected high of 79°.

Beef on the mini. (Smokey Joe converted to a mini Weber Smoky Mountain.)

For the corned beef brisket I followed the the recipe I found on the Virtual Weber. The run consists of:

  • 2 tablespoon(s) Peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon Coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme, dried
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika (Hot Hungarian)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder

I had planned to make it yesterday until I saw that it first had to soak to leach out excess salt and then had to sit overnight with the rub. I put it in a large pot and filled with cold water which I changed several times. It probably spent several hours soaking. Then I applied the rub as described and put it in the ice chest to hold overnight. In the morning I started a fire with some remaining charcoal and some new Mesquite lump and added some Mesquite chunks for smoking wood. Ths went in the mini-WSM with some water in the water bowl. The meat went on shortly afterward on the top grate.

timetemp comment
Meat on! Bottom vent set to about 1/2 open.
9:37 175°/?

More meat on! I added the flap trimmings from the spares since there is more room in the mini at the moment. I also repositioned the cooker temp probe as it looked like it was against the side of the middle section.
10:05161°/?Still seems to be reading low. I might need to open the bottom vent more. I peeked in on the fire and it looked a bit listless so I opened the bottom vents to almost full open.
1:01311°/200Cut the bottom vent down to about half and put a different meat probe in the beef.
1:15299°/200°/193°Could the brisket really be done? I need to check more with an instant read thermometer. No. The instant read thermometer read 144°. Did I get my probes swapped?
x274°/190°/199°Meat temp still looks bogus.
3:03246°/185°/165°meat temp measured with instant read hand held.
3:55?/?/165°The probe meets with little resistance - I'm calling this done! It's off and resting.

(grate/lid) => Grate temperature using a Maverick remote reading thermometer and dome using a probe mounted in the lid.)

Pork on the big smoker (18 1/2" Weber Smoky Mountain)

For the  pork I went with a slight modification of a previous recipe:
  • 2 Tbsp black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Ground dried Ancho chili.
  • 2 Tbsp ground Sage
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • Almost a full garlic bulb (crushed.)
(Note the use of Ancho instead of paprika.) To this I added sufficient peanut oil to make a pourable slurry. I then heated the rub in a microwave to get it hot and release the flavors before I rubbed it on the butts. It turned out that this quantity was just enough for the butts. I made a second batch, cutting the cayenne and cumin in half for the ribs. I applied the rubs and went about making the fire for the beef and pork. This meant that the pork had about an hour to marinate with the rub before it went on the fire.

I built the fire in the WSM using some left over charcoal and smoking wood along with fresh Mesquite lump. I added hickory, maple (Box Elder) and oak for smoking woods. The water bowl started with about 1/2 gallon of hot water.

timetemp comment
Lit coals on the fire.
9:42?/220°Closed two of three bottom vent. Time to put the meat on.
Meat on! And it was quite a job. Ideally the spares fit one slab/level on 18 1/2" grates. I needed to fit 1 1/2 slab on each level so I cut a little off the end of each of two and the third was split in half. I arranged as best as I could and still allow some space around the edge for smoke passage. There is some overlap so I will need to open the smoker to rearrange at about 2 hours. Spares went on the bottom two grates and butts on the top. This is one full smoker!
12:11?/225°With the south wind, the aroma from the meat is wafting inside and smells great!
Meat has been rearranged. Ribs still have a long way to go. Butts even longer. The cook seems to be getting off to a bit of a slow start, but that's the way I like it. :D That's a big load of meat.
2:20?/200°Flipped the ribs back. They are just starting to pull back on the bones. I would guess at least another hour before they're done. As the fire is starting to want, I also stirred the coals a bit too.
6:22289°/?/153°I thought I'd be taking the ribs off already but they looked still not done. The skinny tips that I had trimmed off earlier were ready, but not the rest and so they remain. I also added some more charcoal as what was there seemed to be burning down a bit much. (Meat probe now in the Maverick.)
8:24256°/?/156°Ribs off. They never pulled much back but I'm pretty sure they're done. One rack almost broke in half when picked up.
9:35208°/?/159°Need to stir the coals some more. Add some too.
12:40261°/?/178°Took the smaller butt off to rest.
1:30238°/?/185°Bringing bigger butt in to rest.

(Update December 16.)

I must have gotten tired and never finished this write up. Overall, there was too much meat in the smoker. I think it made for less than even cooking. Some parts of the ribs were a bit uneven. I think that three slabs of spares would fit well on three racks. And I cold do either four smaller butts or two larger ones. Too bad that the ones in the Sam's package are not size matched. But overall we enjoyed the ribs. I think the spares are meatier than back or baby back ribs. I can have one rib for lunch and that's plenty. Two is good but really too much, though that doesn't always stop me.

The butts pulled well. They were falling apart as I lifted them off the grate. I truly love the flavor of pulled pork when I'm pulling it. Right now I have a 20 lb package of butts on the weber and they've been on nearly 13 hours. We're at 165° and I'll probably pull them to rest at 185°.

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