By Kevin Bevington
When learning to cook barbecue, the one thing that everyone seems to learn quickly is to use wood, such as wood chips or wood chunks, or wood pellets, to give your barbecue a smoky flavor. What is not learned quickly enough is how much to use and most use too much, creating an over smoked, bitter piece of meat that is not very pleasant to eat.
Wood flavoring has to be considered similarly to a spice.
If you put salt on something, you are careful to add small amounts and taste, until you come up with just the right amount. The same thing applies to smoke flavor, start with a small amount of wood chips, or a wood chunk, and work your way up. You will find out real quick that people have much different opinions to yours, on how much smoke flavor should be there, so starting with a small amount is the best advice to give.
It seems that fried Turkey may not be as popular as it once was, and turkey on a smoker may be coming back for some, and the usual way to cook Thanksgiving dinner for others.
A few imortant things to keep in mind when cooking a turkey in the smoker;
1. The best size to smoke is no larger than 14 lbs, above that, depending on the type of smoker you have, airflow, and consistent temp may be an issue.
2. If your cooking your bird on an offset cooker, consider putting cheese cloth over top of the turkey while it cooks. This will prevent ash and creosote from ruining your Thanksgiving Turkey.
3. Last, but certainly not least, be very careful with the smoke. Turkey is a very mild flavor, so a very light smoke is all it needs.
Below is a segment from my DVD “Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com”, this segment is fixing Turkey. The video itself is from my channel on YouTube.. Enjoy!
The HomeBBQ.com DVD’s can be purchased through www.homebbqvideo.com or Amazon.com
RED CHILE PUREE
1-2 cups water 8-10 dried red New Mexico chile pods
(Hot) – (get Hatch Valley if you can)
Tear tops off of chile pods and use knife or finger (use plastic food preparation gloves to protect your fingers as they will start to sting a bit — do not touch your eyes with your fingers until you’ve washed them) to clean out seeds and veins inside of each one. Place pods in medium sized pot and cover with water. Heat to boiling on high heat. Boil several minutes until pods are soft stirring occasionally to make sure they boil evenly. Place drained pods (save liquid) in blender container, then pour 1/2 of liquid into blender (keep the rest in the pot and add more water for the next batch) and blend until smooth, add 1-2 cloves garlic if desired. Add more water if needed, but keep in mind this is a puree, thicker than sauce or juice. When pureed, pour into a large stock pot. Sometimes you might need to pour thru a mesh sieve to remove any skins that did not blend up in the blender. NOTE: You will want to make several batches of puree.
CHILE COLORADO (Basic Red Chile Sauce)
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 C. red chile puree (see below)
2 C. chicken broth
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
Dash oregano (use Mexican oregano if you can get it)
Heat butter in medium-size saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1minute. Add red chile puree and cook for about another minute. Gradually add broth and stir, making sure there are no lumps, a whisk works best. Add seasoning to sauce and simmer at low heat for 10-15 minutes.
THE MARINATED PORK:
4 cloves garlic
1 T. salt
1 T. oregano
2 recipes or more of the Red Chile Puree (above)
3-5 lbs. (approx.) pork tenderloin roast
Add garlic, salt and oregano to chile puree. Cut pork loin into four large pieces (slice in half once horizontally and once vertically) and put them in a large, glass baking dish (even better, a stainless steel stock pot) and pour chile puree over to cover — turn meat to cover completely. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours (36-72 hours or more is even better — I like to marinate mine for a week). It is a good idea to stir it around once a day or so to make sure that every part of the pork soaks in the marinade.
FINAL ASSEMBLY AND COOKING:
Place marinated pork pieces in smoker or barbeque and cook using the indirect method to keep the marinade from burning(for best results, use some pecan wood chunks or chips for smoke flavor — pecan smoke is incredible with this dish but be careful not to over smoke) and cook until internal temp reaches around 150 (use a meat thermometer).
Remove pork from smoker and cut into cubes ½” to 1″ square and put into baking pan/dish about 3″-4″ deep. Pour chili colorado over pork cubes (the pork should be “swimming in it”) and put baking pan/dish into smoker – crank up the temp to around 325 (you can do this part in the oven inside if you want) and let it simmer (for best results, seal tightly with foil so the sauce doesn’t boil off and get too thick) for at least an hour – 2 or even 3 hours would be even better (if you simmer longer than an hour you must seal with foil or the sauce will boil off).
About 5 minutes before removing from smoker, remove the foil and layer on top (fairly thickly) a good amount of pre-shredded Kraft Mexican blend cheese. When the cheese melts (about 5 minutes) remove from smoker, let it cool for 5 minutes or so and serve with rice and beans and warmed flour tortillas.
NOTE: This recipe can be cooked in a regular oven (use a baking pan) instead of a smoker – you lose the pecan wood flavor but it is still incredibly delicious.
I was looking through some old papers today and came across some notes I had taken in 2002 while talking to a restaurant consultant from Texas who claimed to have been in the bbq business for the past 10-years.
As I recall it, the gentleman and his wife opened a 30-seat restaurant in a portable building in a town of 7,000 people. He explained that he had an electric smoker that used wood chips for smoke generation/flavor, a couple of steam tables and a soda fountain. The business was basically a two person operation with a drive-thru window and consisted largely of carry-out orders from working families on their way home from work in a larger community nearby.
He said that the bbq restaurant generated gross revenues of $100,000+ per year and a 70% profit margin. I am guessing that he owned the land previously or at least wasn’t paying much rent for the land, although he did not clarify that point.
As a part of his services, he would offer bbq consulting in starting a restaurant for anyone willing to enter into a consulting agreement with him in return for $25,000. The $25,000 purchased three weeks of on-site start-up consulting and 12-months of telephone consultation.
I did not take him up on the offer, but I often wished I lived a little closer to Texas so that I could visit his restaurant and check it out. It sounds like a barbecuer’s “dream” situation.
The cynic in me though, wonders if this story is true or not. Funny thing…I wasn’t willing to risk $25,000 to find out.
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.