Saturday, September 29, 2012

Roadside Chicken - Mexican Style

Got a couple small chickens on sale ($0.88/lb) and weighed 7 lb between the two of them. And that's with no 'inclusions' as we typically get with whole birds. (IOW these are gutless birds.) I planned to make them on the little gas grill using the rotisserie and using the Roadside Chicken recipe. However when I looked it up I ran across this recipe for Mexican Roadside Chicken plagiarized from Rick Bayless. I [pretty much followed the recipe except that I used fresh oregano and added some fresh rosemary. I mixed the marinade and poured it over the birds in one gallon resealable plastic bags. I turned them over several times during the approximate 1 hour marinating time to distribute the marinade.

Weather was nice and sunny with a high of about 68°. Wind was light at about 8 mph.

I used my Weber Silver A with rotisserie to cook these. I put some apple, cherry and mesquite in a foil pack over the igniter (should be a hot spot) and also put a piece of hickory and mesquite on the flavorizer bars hoping they would smolder there rather than burn (which they did.)

I lit the grill and set the burner controls to medium. that proved to be too much heat so I turned them both to low and that held a decent temperature for the remainder of the cook. Maybe at the end I should crank it up again to crisp the skin.

Meat on the rotisserie. Both burners at medium.
16:30400°Cut both burners back to low. Wood in foil pack and directly on the flavorizer bars seems to be smoldering nicely.
16:50340°Both burners on low seem to do a decent job of holding temps at this level.
17:35320°Temp seems to be drifting down a bit. I probed the meat with an instant read thermometer and it was just below 160° on both birds.
17:57°Crank the heat up to crisp the skin!
18:02580°Chicken off!

Chicken came out pretty good. There was a definite smoky flavor and Southwest flavor. And the chicken was really juicy. Only downside was that the skin was not crispy. Oh,well. Maybe bringing the heat up a little sooner is required for that.

Liver pâté and some pork neck bones.

I saw pork neck bones real cheap at the store so I bought some. I also thawed out several pounds of chicken livers with the plan to smoke both in the mini. I'll use the chicken livers for pâté and not sure what I'll do with the neck bones. (Probably make some kind of stock.)

Weather is pleasant at 67°, sunny and with light wind at about 8 mph.

I made a rub for the pork using the recipe for the previous rub except that I remembered the mustard, used fresh Rosemary and only made about 1/3 as much. Those will go on the bottom rack.

For the livers, I sliced a couple small onions and several cloves of garlic and added some fresh Thyme. (Oops, I was supposed to add some Bay leaf. I'll toss in a couple now.) The liver was smoked in a medium cast iron pan.

This is smoked on the mini-WSM using Grove lump. I selected some small chunks of hickory and mesquite for smoking wood. I also poured about half a gallon of hot tap water into the water bowl. The bottom vent was about 1/3 open and I left it there the whole time, not being overly concerned about temperature control.

Meat on!

13:05245°/122°/?Turned the livers over a bit for better smoke exposure. Temp spiked to 310° a few minutes after that.
14:00299°/155°/150°Stirred the livers again. They don't look done yet. (Time to add the Bay leaves. ;)
Lifted the middle section and stirred the coals a bit.
16:30217°/163°/160°Liver looks done - time to bring it in.
17:40210°/NA/?Time to take the neck bones off.

The pâté came out good. I put nearly a stick of butter in as I blended it. That seems like a lot but Pepin recommends a stick and a half for 1/2 lb. chicken livers and I had about 4 lb chicken livers. (This produced about 5 cups of pâté.) I like the flavor but I'm not sure I can pick out the smoke flavor. Against the liver it may be pretty subtle.

The neck bones weren't really done the way I'd want ribs or pulled pork done, but I planned on further cooking anyway. These were pretty bony so I covered them with water and simmered until the meat was falling off the bone. I'm going to use this stock to make lentils.

What to do differently next time.The only thing to do differently would involve the size of the pan I used for the livers. I didn't want something deep but a relatively small cast iron pan was all that would fit in the mini-WSM. Ideally I'd have a 12" cast iron pan with no handle. I used a pyrex casserole last time and the smoke left a relatively durable film on the outside which took a lot of scrubbing to remove.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spare ribs for the corn roast.

Spare Ribs went on sale at Ultra for $1.76/lb. That helped me to make my decision for what to smoke for the corn roast. I purchased 6 individually cryovaced racks. The racks ran a little on the small size. I'm guessing that some hog farmers may be liquidating their herds doe to the continued drought. the smaller size would work to my advantage when fitting these in the smoker anyway. In addition to that, I trimmed them up a bit, more or less Saint Louis style. (I didn't slavishly go for straight racks, I just trimmed the brisket off mostly. The flap had already been mostly trimmed and I only needed to trim additionally on one of six racks. I also trimmed off what I believe to be the sternum portion of the ribs.

We have a hot day today. At 1:00 PM we're at 89° and should go a bit higher. Wind is breezy reported at 15 mph but much lighter on the patio. The sky is clear and the sun hot.

I'm using a rub modified form the Mother's Day rub. I had meant to add some mustard powder but I forgot. <sigh>. Next time.

  • 3 Tbsp. Coarse grind black pepper. (**)
  • 4 Tbsp. ground Sage
  • 2 Tbsp. Coriander (**)
  • Chopped fresh Rosemary - about 2 Tbsp.
  • 2 Tbsp ground dried Oregano flakes. (**)
  • 1 Tbsp. ground Chili Ancho
  • 1 Tsp. ground Chili Chipotle
  • 1 Tsp. Cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder (not enough fresh.)
  • Enough peanut oil to make this mixture a slurry.
I ran out of rub before I rubbed the tips so I mixed up a dry rub similar to above except I used dry Rosemary and about 1 Tsp. Kosher salt and 1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar.

This is going to be a double cook. The racks of ribs go in the WSM (equipped with an extra cooking rack) and the trimmings will go in the mini-WSM. I'm using lump charcoal and hickory, walnut, maple and apple (WSM) or pecan, apple, maple and a little cherry (mini-WSM.)  One gallon of hot water was added to the bowl in the WSM and about half that much in the mini.  The WSM was started with a Minion lay and was buttoned up with one bottom vent open half. The mini was nearly full from a previous smoke so I put all of the charcoal in the chimney to light and added the smoking wood to the fire ring and then poured lit coals onto the wood arranged around the outside edge inside the fire ring.

The smokers weren't given more than about 5 minutes to get going before loading the meat.

Racks of ribs in the WSM:


Started out with pone bottom vent half open.
12:50 PM
Meat on!
1:51172°/170° (grate, lid)
6:50246°/210°Water gone?
7:30245°/205°Tips are done but the ring still have more to go.
9:17213°/195°Meat just barely starting to pull back on bones. Stirred the fire a bit and threw in a couple more chunks of apple. Seems to be plenty of charcoal left and it seems to be well lit. Opened the one bottom vent a little bit.
10:10228°/190°Not pulling back on the bones much yet but the ribs on the bottom rack were starting to. Since there will be opportunity for further cooking when reheating, I'll take them off now. They do seem pretty flexible when picked up by hand. Meat off!

Grate measured using a Maverick ET-73 and lid using the built in Weber thermometer.

Rib trimmings in the mini:


Started with bottom vent half open and (Doh!) top vent closed. At about half an hour stupidity realized and top vent opened. Coals still lit!
1:25 PM
Meat on!
2:40200°(lid)Nice recovery
3:35185°Opened the bottom vent a little to about 2/3 open.
Meat off! Time for some rib tip trimmings for dinner.

Some of the rib tips were served as soon as they came off. they were a little dry but still very tasty. The racks that came off the main smoker went into a covered turkey roasting pan to rest a bit and chill before they were put in the cooler.