Sunday, April 15, 2012

More pulled pork

I have the privilege to prepare pulled pork for a club event - new member get together. I set aside about half of the pulled pork I smoked a couple days ago for a backup supply and I picked up a 21 lb double pack today. I could be feeding up to 40 people. There will probably be fewer but just in case... This is going to be my first overnight smoke. Serving time is 5:00 PM tomorrow and my plan is to finish this late enough so that I can pull the pork and keep it hot to serve. I'll serve this on rolls with store bought cole slaw and Sweet Baby Ray's sauce as well as home made Big Daddy's Carolina Sauce.

Weather is mild with temps at 55°. Wind is reported at about 10 mph but it feels calm outside. It's not supposed to get much colder through the night.

I used the same wet rub that I used a couple days ago. Why mess with success? It went on the butts about 9:30 PM and I went about choosing smoking woods - hickory, box elder, oak, cherry and apple - and setting and ighting the fire.

Lit coals went on the Minion lay at about 10:20. for charcoal I'm using mostly Stubbs briquettes and the ends of a bag of Mesquite lump (mostly fines.) Fire seems to be getting off to a slow start with temperature holding at 157°. Maybe I need to check the batteries in my remote. Doh! Maybe I need to open the lid vent! I had forgotten to do that when I buttoned up the cooker.

10:20PMpig/grate/lidclosed up cooker with coals starting to light.
10:4542°/197°/?Temp approaching 200° so meat on! closed two bottom vents and left one a little less than half open.
11:5657°/206°/190°I'm still not happy with temps so I stirred the coals a bit. Wind has picked up outside - gusts to 20 mph. And it feels like there is the slightest drizzle.
12:1266°/202°/185°Stirred coals some more and went full open on one bottom vent.
1:46104°/217°/195°Closing the single open bottom vent to about half to see what happens.
2:00108°/209°/195°OK! Opened that bottom vent back up.
7:28157°/202°/190°Stirred coals and added more smoking wood. Seems to be plenty of charcoal.
8:05160°/219°/?°After the previous check I opened a second bottom vent and temp is once again heading where I want it.
8:42162°/225°/210°Put 6 brats on to smoke. I had forgotten about those until I was asked why I bought them.
9:45167°/228°/220°Brats at about 160° and off, next batch on (total of 20 brats to smoke.)
Swapped in the next batch of brats. (Temps holding.)
11:00172°/228°/?°Ned to watch for temperature droop due to fuel exhaustion, but that doesn't seem to be happening yet.
11:45174°/246°/225°Last batch of brats off and now to wait for the butts to finish. Temp is climbing (recovery to over 260° after removing brats) and that should help moving the butts past the stall.
12:55177°/240°/220°Threw some more lump on and opened the third bottom vent about half.
2:30185°/?/?Meat off when it hit 185°.

While I smoked the butt, I took advantage of some of the extra space on the grate to smoke some brats. They take about an hour and were done in three turns.

The butts came out pretty good. The smaller one which I had put on the lower grate was done a little more. This is about the most I would want them done, otherwise I'm afraid they would lose too much texture. I served them with both Carolina mustard sauce (Bit Daddy's recipe) and Sweet Baby Ray's. Some had the pork with mo sauce at all.

What to do differently next time? First, make sure the lid vent is fully open when the cooker is buttoned up. Next... Think twice about using charcoal fines in the fire. I tried to finish off a bag of mesquite lump charcoal which had a lot of fines remaining. I hobbled the fire to start with the closed vent and recovery might have been hampered by the fines preventing good airflow through the charcoal bed. But overall, the temperature profile was good and I hit my target finish time after 16 hours of smoking.

What to do differently next time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Butt over Brisket

I've heard of smoking butts over brisket so I'm having a go at that today. I have 2 8+ lb butts and a smallish brisket to give this a try. Some of the brisket is to pay off some bobcat work that a neighbor did for me. The brisket is for us, some variety.

(I do need to figure out how to post pictures side by side without digging into the raw HTML.)

Weather is on the brisk side with temps at 44° and not looking like it's going to get much higher. It's windy with average at 17 mph out of the Northwest and both calm and gusty periods.

I'm using Raichlen's coffee rub for the brisket as it's a tried and true recipe. I rubbed the brisket and set it aside before prepping the pork. Thaty got my typical run which is approximately:
  • 1 Tbsp black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika.
  • 1 Tbsp ground Sage
  • 1 Tbst Ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
  • Almost a full garlic bulb (crushed.)
I make a slurry of this using peanut oil and rub that on the butts and then went to prep the smoker. For this smoke I'm using the WSM and firing with some Stubbs briquettes and some Mesquite lump. Smoking wood includes Hickory, Box Elder, Oak, Apple and Lilac. Fire lay is modified Minion and I set the chimney on the charcoal while it fully lights to start some of the coals below it. Fire is lit about 1:30 PM. Fire is roaring and cooker closed up at about 1:35. I'll wait to see what temperature is going to do before I add meat. I also put about 3 quarts of hot tap water in the bowl.

1:45 PM?/237°/225°
Warm enough to put meat on (temps prior to opening the cooker.)
2:0958°/245°/205°Going to close that one bottom vent to half and see what that does to the slowly rising temps. I'm probably boiling a bit of water getting tempos this high next to cold meat.
2:3576°/237°/?Good progress at this point.
3:32103°/232°/190°Tossed in some more smoking wood. Measured brisket at 148°.
5:28138°/223°/187°Opened the bottom vent a wee bit.
6:11144°/120°/185°Beef at 154°, opened one bottom vent full and stirred coals a bit.
6:48147°/202°/?Beef at 154°, stirred fire and opened second bottom vent full.
8:24160°/262°/215°Beef 164°.
9:51170°/254°/215Beef at 180°
10:20173°/254°/?Brisket at 187° so it came out. quite a juggling match ensued, but I finally got the cooker back together. <sigh> Brisket is now resting. Outside temp is now 33°,
12:10 AM175°/241°/130°Threw a couple more handfuls of lump on - looks like fuel is mostly gone.
12:49176°/287°/?Yay! Butts moving again.
1:48187°/287°/?Pork off!
(meat - ET-73 food probe in one of the butts on the top rack, grate - ET-73 cooker probe dangling just inside the eyelet. Lid is the built in thermometer.)

Despite the temperature, the brisket was still firm. Not tough, but firm. It still tastes great, but I think it could go to melt in your mouth tender if I kept it in longer. One of these days I'll get brisket right.

Pork on the other hand was definitely done when I took it off. And as usual tasted great! I'll stick it in a warm oven and pull it in the morning.

The one on the right was falling apart when I picked it up off the grate. That's how you know they're done! When I unpacked the raw butts, they just fit into this pan. It looks like they didn't lose too much moisture during the smoke!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Leg of Lamb

This is going to be our Easter dinner. We got a 12 lb leg of lamb - that's just about everything from the ankle to the shoulder blade (or is it the hip?) This will be the inaugural cook on my new 26 and we'll be following the technique described by Steve Raichlen for Leg of Lamb Provencal. In addition I plan to baste using the recipe in this thread. Unlike Raichlen however I'll be using charcoal instead of a gas grill.

Weather is sunny and windy at about 15 mph. Temperature at the moment is 62°F.

I prepared the lamb as described by making slits in which I could stuff garlic, fresh rosemary or Kalamata olive slices. (I found that needle nose cooking pliers are good for inserting the rosemary.)

I put a drip pan on one side of the charcoal grate and dumped lit coals on the other. Over that portion of the fire I plan to grill some veggies later in the cook.  When the ET-73 hanging from the lid vent registered 400°, I put the meat on (over the drip pan.) I also added some chunks of cherry, walnut and oak for smoking wood. I also closed the bottom vent to about 1/2 coverage. Temp soon pegged the ET-73 (max 410°F) and I cut it back a little more by closing the bottom vent a bit more. 15 minutes after closing it up it is reading 377° and that seems good.

2:05 PM400°/? (cooker/meat)Meat on!
2:37352°/?Opened bottom vent a bit more.
2:56357°/61°Opened bottom vent a bit more.
3:22352°/80°Added more lump and some hickory.
4:13336°/118°Temp had risen up to about 390° after last reading and was drifting down again. I added more smoking wood and stirred the coals a bit.
4:50340°/139°Meat off and resting. fire stoked a bit for veggies.

Results: the meat was very good - no great surprise - as were the vegetables. I probably could have taken it off a little sooner. I was shooting for medium rare and it seems more like medium. I could probably do with about half the baste as well. Plenty of that left over.

The grate is a cast iron grate from my Lodge Sportsmen. I think I'll get better grill marks with that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More grilling and rotisserie work

I haven;t been doing much smoking these days, but I have some big smokes coming u;p. I promised my neighbor some pulled pork for some bobcat work he did for me and I'm also committed to make [pulled pork for an upcoming BMW club event.

Last night I grilled some walleye on my Platinum and using my magic cast iron grate. Before I put the walleye on, I grilled some eggplant, Spanish onion and broccoli raab, all brushed with EVOO and sprinkled with salt and black pepper. The fish was seasoned with peanut oil, salt and pepper and some Adobo Seasoning (Peazey's.)

I get a nice grill with the cast iron grate and fired with Mesquite lump. Before I put the fish on, I threw a few pieces of cherry on the coals and they added a real nice flavor. I love grilled vegetables and diner was good!

A week or two ago I rotisserie grilled a pineapple. this is the one that is sprinkled with a sugar/cinnamon mix. It was going slow and I got to not watching it for a while and so it got a little charred, but it was still good.

The big news recently is a change in the equipment lineup. I delivered my Genesis Gold B to my fishing buddy in Munster. He is really excited about it. He's been making do with a lesser brand and should get many fine years out of a Weber. That leaves me with a Q220 and Genesis Silver A for my gas grills. I think they'll be sufficient. Should I need more space than the A provides, I'll fire up the Q. On the same trip, I stopped in Valpo and picked up a 1985 Weber 26 3/4 grill! It had been used as part of a store display and then tucked away and had never ever been fired up. It's brand spanking new. I'm pretty excited about that and we picked up a 12 lb. leg of lamb for an inaugural cook on Easter Sunday.

Today I'm going to roast a couple more Road Side Chickens on the rotisserie so I can make another batch of Buffalo-Chicken Mac 'n Cheese. They're marinating right now. In an hour or so I'll spit them and put them on the grill. These were both about 3 lb.

Weather is 64° F with light clouds and wind light at about 5 mph. As of 5:50, the clouds are heavy and a light drizzle has begun.

Today the rotisserie is back on the Silver A and that's what I'll be using for the chicken. I'll take the grates out and set some kind of drip pan on the flavorizers. (Probably make a drip pan from heavy duty aluminium foil.) I've also made two foil pouches with cherry and black walnut for a little smoke. Those went on with the birds.

timetemp comment
5:22 PM?/pegged (cooker/lid)Birds on! Heating up the grill on full while I spit the birds. I cut both burners down to minimum and after a few minutes (while I got my ET-73) I raised the back burner up to medium.
5:37pegged/400°Too hot - both burners back to lowest setting. then front between low and medium.
6:39361°/340°Good temperature.
7:51365°/350Nice stable temp - chicken nearly done.
8:10330°/340°Birds done!
(cooker - ET-73 inserted in the side of the cooker. lid is the Weber lid thermometer which goes up to about 600°)

Bird's off and resting for a bit before I pull them off the spit and cut up a piece or two for a late evening snack. As before, it tasted pretty good. However I didn't get a lot of smoke flavor even with two smoke packets. I think next time I may try the chickens on a charcoal grill.