I am one of the guys who loves my gas grill, and I really do not care what others say.
I like the ease of use, predicable performance, easy of cleaning, and all of that. But, it took me awhile to learn how to get “real wood smoke flavor” from my gasser.
When using my smoker, I have learned to love certain smoke flavors with certain types of meat. For example, I like fruit woods such as Cherry, Apple, and Peach on poultry and pork. For beef (primarily Brisket Burgers on the gasser), I like a touch of Mesquite.
I have also played with specialty chips such as the Jack Daniels barrel chips and such with mixed results. To get the smoke flavor, I use a “Smoke Bomb” loaded with chips or pellets of the desired flavor.
A Smoke Bomb is basically a closed container with only a couple of air holes to allow smoke to escape.
A Smoke Bomb can be made that lasts a long time, even to an hour or more if needed. It works so well because it restricts the oxygen to the chips or pellets, producing a longer and smoldering burn that reduces flare ups and quick burning.
I started with the most simple of Smoke Bombs, just heavy duty aluminum foil. I made a double layer big enough to resemble a small grapefruit with chips or pellets inside. Sealed it up good and poked one or two tiny holes in the top with a tooth pick or my trusty Thermopen. Place it on a burner and when smoke starts emitting from the holes, it is time to cook.
The next step up for me was one of those stamped and bent sheet metal boxes sold by Home Depot with “smoking chips” in them. They are about 5-6 inches long, 3 inches wide, and an inch deep. The first thing is to throw away the “smoking chips” unless you really know what they are. If you try to use these open boxes with chips, you will need to soak them first or they will just ignite and last a minute or two. Not even long enough to do a smoked hot dog. So, I wrapped the box with good ole HD aluminum foil and poked a couple of small holes in the top to restrict combustion air. Worked like a charm. Biggest benefit was that the box gave some form to the Smoke Bomb when compared to HD foil only. Worked well.
My final evolutionary step was a cast iron skillet to hold the chips and pellets. I found an old 7 Inch skillet at a garage sale for $2. I cover it with HD foil with a couple of teeny -tiny holes again. One quarter to one half a cup of pellets or chips produces plenty of smoke for a good steak cook. Because of it’s mass, I put the skillet on my side burner to get the heat up and start the smoke. Then, the skillet fits perfectly on the two left hand burners on my five burner gas grill.
I defy anyone to tell that my steak cooked with a Mesquite Smoke Bomb came off a gasser! Outstanding wood smoke flavor, and that is what BBQ is all about.
Chips a pellets are available at many places, including WalMart if you watch the BBQ area closely. Small quantities of pellets are available on-line in many flavors. I tequires so few pellets or chips per cook that they are really cost effective when used only for flavor.
I was talking with someone about competition barbecue the other day. The person I was talking too took a particular interest in what kind of containers were used for the turn ins. I told her they were Styrofoam…she cringed! Then she asked me if that was the standard at comps across the country. I told her, from what I have seen, that her suspicion was correct.
She asked me a number of questions that I didn’t have an answer for…but after talking with her for a while, I began to see a new mission for me. That being to convince bbq sanctioning bodies to “Go Green” at their competitions…I know…a long shot, but I think it is worth pursuing if for nothing else then to educate people on what they use and how it affects everything around us.
I will be having this Green Expert on my radio show in a few weeks to let her speak on the subject. I hope you will follow my developments on this and if you have any suggestions please let me know!
Sometime back in 1999 or thereabouts Jim Minion was participating in a regional barbeque championship in the Pacific Northwest. His cooker of choice was a Weber Smokey Mountain.
However, following the manufacturer’s instructions on building a fire in this otherwise wonderful smoker proved useless as the fire would quickly shoot up to well over 325 degrees. What to do, what to do?
Jim Minion, a fleet manager for an auto sales company, tried something different – he spread a layer of lighted briquettes over a pile of unlit briquettes and he found that he could maintain a steady fire for as long as 22 hours in his Weber Smokey Mountain. He took a first and a second in two categories that day and the Minion Method was born.
About that same time I was having incredible difficulty holding a steady temp for any decent length of time in my Hondo offset. I came across a description of the Minion Method on the Internet and decided to give it a try. I filled the firebox with Kingsford briquettes as recommended, lit a Weber chimney filled with briquettes, dumped them on top and for the very first time I held a rock steady 220 for four hours, but then the fire choked itself out from all the ash produced by the briquettes. But heck, that was a whole lot better than before.
My wife’s uncle, one of the most fun individuals I have every had the pleasure of knowing (he was one of those people who, from the moment they walk into the room you know you are about to have a great time), and a true lover of ‘que was visiting and he wanted me to fire up the barbeque. As an incentive he brought me a bag of lump charcoal. Not wanting to insult a guest, I fired up my Hondo using the Minion Method with the ump charcoal.
I fully expected a disaster as everything I read about the Minion Method said to use briquettes. Instead I was stunned – I quickly got the fire settled down to 220 and it stayed there – and held – and held – and 8 hours later the temp was still reading 220! By then I was done and removed the meat from the smoker
but it was another two hours before the temp dropped.
A convert was born!
That was several years ago and I’ve learned a lot since then. Most important is that not all lump charcoals are the same. Some will only hold a steady fire for about 4 hours. The average lump will give you about 6 hours. The best lumps will hold 220 for 10 hours or more. Other things that will affect the burn time are outdoor weather conditions, the make/model of smoker you have, and the temp at which you are cooking. I have also learned that once you learn the individual quirks of your smoker you can “dial in” any temp you want by making small adjustments to the chimney damper and/or the air intake control.
For the longest, steadiest burn times I recommend you get the best quality hardwood lump charcoal you can find. Briquettes will work, however they produce so much ash that the fire chokes itself out within about 4 hours. High quality hardwood lump charcoal burns hotter produces very little ash resulting in a much longer burn time.
Fill the firebox with charcoal all the way to the lip of the opening between the firebox and the cooking chamber then hollow out ever so slightly — about an inch or so — just enough to make the pile slightly concave — a small area in the middle by pushing the charcoal up around the sides a little.
Fill a Weber chimney with charcoal and light it. When it is going real good (all coals glowing) then pour it all on top of the charcoal in the firebox, keeping it centered as much as possible.
Close the lids but leave all the vents (air intake and chimney) wide open. When the temp reaches 275 – 300 degrees, begin closing the air intake. Close the air intake half way then check the temp in 15 minutes. If it is too high, close the intake half way again and check in 15 minutes. If still too high, close the air intake all the way. Check again in 15 minutes. If the temp is still too high and ALL VISIBLE SMOKE DISAPPEARS, begin closing the chimney — you guessed it – half way. Check again in 15 minutes, etc. At some point the temp will stabilize — check the vents and remember where they were as that will be your starting point next time — in other words, after the initial temp has reached 275-300, then you can close the vents down to your starting point rather than repeating the entire procedure again. The fire will slowly burn down through the pile of charcoal providing a nice, long, steady burn.
So, all of us backyard pitmasters owe Jim Minion a huge thumbs up for daring to try something different and making top notch barbeque a breeze.
Til next time, keep on cookin’!
A few years ago while competing in a barbecue event in Arcadia, Florida the unthinkable happened while preparing our chicken turn-in box. We prepared fantastic turn-in samples and were sure we had a good chance to win, but after placing the samples in the box and closing it I discovered that our box had been damaged.
I froze for a few seconds and wasn’t sure what to do next. Should I turn in the sample anyway and take a chance that the box would be disqualified? Should I throw in the towel for the chicken category and start preparing for the rib turn-in?
It was only a few minutes before turn-in time and I decided to take the box to the turn-in table. Once there I approached the official at the table and showed her the damaged box. I asked if the damaged box would be a problem, assuming it would, and she agreed. She gave me an ultimatum. Turn-in the box and be disqualified or put the chicken samples into a new box within the next two minutes and turn it in before the cut-off time.
She handed me a new box. I didn’t have any of the usual tools we use to prepare our boxes, but I transferred the chicken into the new box and turned it in.
The new box was not well prepared and was not nearly as “put together” as the original. The chicken wasn’t perfectly straight. We use a very sticky barbecue sauce for chicken and transferring it left a lot of smudges and smears on the sides of the box. The sauce wasn’t evenly distributed on the individual pieces of chicken any longer either. I figured it was at best a 10th place chicken entry.
Later on at the awards ceremony we were pleasantly surprised with a 5th place finish in the chicken category. I was convinced more than ever that if we finished 5th with a mediocre box, we were a shoe-in to win with the original box, but we were thrilled with 5th considering the circumstances we had to overcome. The entire episode might have been avoidable if we’d only looked at the boxes earlier in the day.
We’ve learned many lessons about barbecue competitions. Anything can and will happen when you least expect it. At another event, a strong gust of wind blew the canopy completely off the cooking site of our neighboring competitor just as he was preparing to slice his ribs for turn-in. It didn’t faze him. He went right along slicing the ribs and ended up with a top three finish in the rib category.
The moral of this story? Never give up. Keep on trucking full steam ahead. In the end, the outcome just might surprise you.
For over a year I have been talking about it, and almost 9 month’s ago, they were filmed, and now they are a reality. As of today, Grilling With HomeBBQ.com and Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com are officially available for sale, and shipment.
At the begining of January, I sent out a notice to all of my loyal customers letting them know they could purchase the DVD’s, pre-release at a substancial discount. Many purchased them, the unfortunate thing was, they were not ready until now. I deeply apologize to those who have been waiting patiently for these, this is something I am brand new to, and had no idea what obstacles I was about to face. I have lots of boxes outside my front door right now waiting for USPS to pick up, and they are finally on their way to you.
The DVDs are initially being made available through CreateSpace.com’s on Demand program, and are now also available through Amazon.com, the product ASIN’s at Amazon are as follows;
Grilling With HomeBBQ.com – B001DKY3H2
Backyard Barbecue with HomeBBQ.com – B001DL1DKG
In about 3 to 4 weeks, they will also be available through Amazon’s Unbox. This is an exiting time for us, and hope you thouroughly enjoy these DVDs.
HomeBBQ.com has released 2 DVD’s for the backyard cook. “Grilling with HomeBBQ.com” and “Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com”.
In “Grilling with HomeBBQ.com”, Kevin Bevington (5 time FBA Team of the Year Champion) demonstrates cooking on gas and charcoal grills. He starts with the basics and then goes into some great food, including full recipes, and preparation. This DVD will include; Hamburgers, Steak, Chicken, Tri-Tip Roast, Pork Chops, Grilled Salmon, Shrimp, Stuffed Flank Steak, Baltimore Pit Beef, Pork Loin, and much more..
In “Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com” Kevin Bevington (5 time FBA Team of the Year Champion) demonstrates cooking low and slow on a small offset cooker, and a bullet style water pan smoker. He starts with the basics on how to start your cookers, maintaining even temp, goes through full meat prep, and the process of cooking and finishing these meats. This DVD includes full recipes, and preparation. Included are the following; Boston Butt (pulled pork), Beef Brisket, St Louis Style Ribs, Baby Back Ribs, Country Style Ribs, Standing Rib Roast, Turkey, and much more.
These DVD’s can be purchased now via CreateSpace.com through the links below.
Grilling with HomeBBQ.com – http://www.createspace.com/252519
Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com – http://www.createspace.com/252518
We will make these available as packages on HomeBBQ.com online store soon.