Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brisket on the offset

This is the first post-restore smoke on the New Braunfels Black Diamond (NBBD.) I'm firing it up pretty much unmodified just to see how it works as designed. I found a large brisket  at Sam's - 14 lb - that might actually be a packer.

It is 52°F as I start the fire with a predicted high of 70 today. The sky is clear and the wind is very light at 0-5 mph.

I trimmed as much fat off the brisket as I could and rubbed liberally with salt and pepper. I'll smoke fat side down and put some of the trimmings on top to help keep the meat basted.

Fire was started with a mini-chimney of lump and then stoked mostly with oak splits with some apple and maple mixed in. The fire box got hot enough to ignite splits warming on the shelf!

timetemp comment
8:25°Got some hot coals on some wood in the fire box.
8:38443°/484°FProbably put too much wood in the fire box and temper is climbing right up! I'll let it burn down a bit before I put any meat in there. I'm using a mix of oak and maple to get things started. I'll probably add some apple as things go along.
8:45482°/HHHOverranged the probe closest to the fire so I closed the slide about half and removed the probe from the smoke chamber.
Meat on! Fat side down. Draped liberally with the trimmed fat.
9:15234°/45°Threw some more wood on.
9:37261°/59°Temperature had come up and was dropping so I threw in some more wood before going for a run.
10:24189/93fire down to coals - stoked with oak.
11:06194/120down to coals again, stoked the fire with more oak.
12:51304/172Temp dropping a bit and time to wrap in paper
2:32277/199Temp falling off, time to probe. Probing pretty tender but still some resistance under the point. Threw one more split in and will probably leave it at that.
3:00248/207Time to rest my meat.

It seems like the cooker in stock form likes to run about 320°F or so. For the last stick, I've cut the draft port to about half to see what that does. (Another NBBD owner told me it holds 225-250 at 1/4 slider opening.) Paper wrap seemed to work OK. It captured a lot of liquids by the end of the rest. Meat toward the thick end was terrific! The other end was pretty chewy. I think that the temperature distribution is pretty uneven. 

What to do differently next time...

  1. Install some kind of tuning plate for more even heat distribution.
  2. Run with the door slider at 1/2 or 1/4.
  3. Run less than 4 miles between tending the cooker.
  4. Crumple some foil to make a gasket for the stack. It looks pretty leaky at the base.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Firing up my Sequoia

The effort to clean up and refurbish my Sequoia grill is nearly complete. (I still have to get H/W to mount the towel rings.) Today I do my first cook in it. I had gone to the store with plans to pick up some salmon steaks to grill. I found baby back ribs on sale for $2.99/lb. and since that's the first thing I ever cooked on a Weber kettle, I decided it would be appropriate for the first cook on the Sequoia since it has come into my hands. To go with, I'll grill some spuds and broccoli and squash. To avoid the conflicts between grilling and smoking, those will be done on my 18" kettle.

Weather is pleasant at 73°F with wind light at about 10 mph. The sky is clear of clouds resulting in bright sun.

I peeled the membrane off the back side of the ribs and rubbed one rach with Slap Yo' Daddy rub and for the other I used some rub left over from a previous cook.

Ribs will be done in the Sequoia using a wire basket to hold the coals and a drip pan under the ribs. I'm going to use Coshell (coconut shell) charcoal for this because it seems to burn slowly and with less heat - ideal for ribs. To the briquettes I've added some oak, pecan and apple chunks for smoke. Shortly after closing the cooker I went to a single bottom vent wide open and I'll monitor cooker temperature through the lid vent using the Weber thermometer.

timetemp comment
Fire in the hole! Lit coals are put with the smoking wood in the basket in the grill.
2:50320°Meat on!
3:11320°Seems to be holding steady at 320° with a single vent open.
3:35340°Closed single bottom vent to half. I'd prefer temps about 300°
4:00290°That's better. Ribs look good!
Added more smokin wood and stirred the (mostly burned up) coals.
5:00250°Ribs looking good but not starting to pull back on the bones. Opened the one bottom vent full and stirred the ash that had fallen on it. Need to bump things up a bit. I'd be happy to be resting the ribs now. Starting lump for the veggies.
5:20275°Opened another bottom vent.
5:30300°Let's get this show on the road! (SWMBO will be home any minute and the ribs are not done.)
5:54340°(Not peeking...)
6:20300°Threw some lump on for a faster finish. I'm getting hungry!
Meat off! One slab closest to the coals was done and the other finished in the oven.

5:30 - I want them done!

Results: The ones with my rub were a little over seasoned. The rub was good for a butt but I applied too much on ribs. I was also disappointed not to have the ribs finish on time and on the grill. But dinner was good anyway. Did some veggies on another kettle

And had enough coals left to make some peach pies. :D

What to do differently next time: Start earlier. Add briquettes more frequently. (The Coshell briquettes seem not to last longer than other briquettes.) Go easy on my rub.