Friday, December 16, 2011

Mexican Weather Forecast

Chili today, hot tamale!

In fact this morning when I started my next smoke, the weather outside was 21°, wind about 10 mph and sunny. I'm going to be smoking about 20 lb of pork butts which will be used to make tamales tomorrow. Puns all the way 'round!

Seasoning for the pork is going to be a little different. I added some Ancho chili powder because I thought it would cast it a little more toward a Mexican flavor. I used:
  • rosemary (ground in a coffee grinder)
  • coarse fresh ground black pepper
  • rubbed sage
  • about a bulb of crushed garlic
  • two dried red peppers (from my sister's market garden)
  • Ancho chile powder
  • cumin

I mixed in enough peanut oil to make a kind of slurry with the spices. I think a little oil helps to keep the meat moist. Here's the pork rubbed and ready to go on with the tamale steamer we'll be using tomorrow.

Weather conditions at 9:30 AM - 27°, sunny skied and winds light at 7 mph.

This smoke is going on to the WSM (18½ inch Weber Smoky Mountain.) I'll be using mostly mesquite lump (with a lot of fines) and some Stubbs to ignite it. Smoking woods include a little mesquite, hickory, maple (box elder, actually) and some crab apple. The larger butt - probably about 50% bigger than the smaller one - is going on the top grate. I'll put some sausages on there as well to take advantage of the extra space.

timetemp comment
Stubbs in the charcoal chimney and on the propane burner.
Lit coals on a minion lay and then assembled smoker with about a gallon of water in the bowl.
Lots of smoke coming off the smoker so I closed two bottom vents to see where it goes. I also put the remote in place. Within a minute or so it's already reading close to 200°. In a couple minutes I'll put the meat on the smoker.
9:55?/220°/?Time to put the meat on! The larger one goes on top where the temp is probably a little higher.
10:20175°/179°/41°TBS! (Thin Blue Smoke - the epitome of smoking. ;) )
11:08160°/205°/59°And it already smells good! I'm not concerned about the cold dome temp as it probably reflects the large cold piece of meat right under the probe.
11:20150°/x/xHeading on on some errands and dome temp seems to be dropping so I opened one bottom vent about half. That leaves one closed, one open and one about half.
2:02160°/224°/117°Looks like the bit of additional air was a good idea. Time to put some sausages on.
3:05205°/215°/127°Took the first batch of sausage off and put another on. A little earlier the grate temp had spiked to about 263° but it seems to have settled down again.
I stirred the fire a bit. I could hear sandhill cranes migrating overhead. That's the second flight I've seen the last week or so. It seems like they're moving a bit late this year.
4:10200°/241°/135°Second batch of Polish sausage came off. Brats now on. I really don't like opening the smoker that much, but I really like smoked sausage.
5:10240°/244°/141°Brats off the WSM.
7:00200°/?/?Threw another dozen briquettes on the fire. I'm out of lump and finished the bag of Stubbs so I used some Coshell that I had open.
8:45195°/211°/159°Threw in 15 more Coshell briquettes. the previous bunch had lit and were now about half size from when they went in. I'll probably have to add more every hour or two until the pork is ready to come off.
9:32200/214°/159°Looks like the meat is at the plateau. And I should probably throw on a few more briquettes. (12 more.) Outside temp is down to 28°
9:49245°/231°/159°The temperature difference between lid and grate has flipped. Perhaps an indication that things are moving along despite the meat seeming to be stuck at 159°
10:11?/249°/161°Temp moving again. That big butt must have started out about 12-13 lb. It's a big one.
10:35?/?/164°I was concerned that the smaller but might be ahead of the bigger one so I lifted the top one out of the way and used a hand held digital therm to check the bottom one. It was about 155° so my concern seems to be unfounded. There is no more water in the bowl.
11:10?/233°/169°Moving right along...
11:26?/217°/170°Throwing some more briquettes on. 8 more and a couple more chunks each of oak and maple. I think this is going to be the last of the wood I add. I'll open the vents a bit the next time temp drops and if needed, finish the pork in the oven.
12:27220°/247°/174°Bottom vents now open at 2.5/3.
1:00220°/237°/176°Bottom vents all open.
1:20?/215°/177°Time to bring the meat in. Now it needs to rest.

Dome temperature is the lid thermometer on the WSM. Grate is the remote reading from the Maverick ET-73 which hangs in the middle section below the grate and about 3" from the side of the smoker. It should more or less be in the heat rising from the coals. The meat temperature is the other ET-73 probe stuck in the larger butt.

This is another blog post that I'll be updating throughout the day as the smoke progresses.

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