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Woods for Smoking

July 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Decisions on smoking woods used are usually based on regional availability and preference. In fact, there are more woods used then what I have listed. As I come across more I will add them.

Well Known Smoking Woods

Hickory – Said to be the King of Smoking woods. I would have to agree. Hickory produces a strong sweet hearty taste. Hickory, in my opinion was made for pork. However, it works well with chicken and beef also.

Pecan– Being in the same family as hickory, pecan has a similar flavor but not quite as strong as hickory. It is great on all meats.

Apple – While Apple is an excellent Wood for smoking red meat; it does an exceptional job on poultry. I like to use Apple on chicken and turkey with a little bit of cherry.

Cherry – Can be a difficult wood to come by, Cherry produces a delicately sweet flavor. Great for poultry, beef, fish and pork.

Mesquite – Great tasting but strong. This uniquely flavored wood is as potent as it is tasty. Mesquite is actually used more for direct cooking than smoking. Be careful, too much or too long can produce a bitter flavor.

Oak – Most versatile of the hardwoods blending well with most meat. Oak is a milder smoke than hickory, works well with pork, chicken, or beef.

Maple – Produces a light sweet taste recommended for poultry and ham.

Alder – Native to the Pacific Northwest, alder is a mild sweet wood. Great for almost all meats, used mostly for smoking fish (salmon in particular).

Not So Well Known Smoking Woods (and other things)

Peach – Another sweet wood, good to use with other woods such as – Another sweet wood, good to use with other woods such as Buy Cialis oak Buy Cialis or hickory. Works well mixed with Alder when cooking salmon.

Plum – Similar to Peach, but make sure to use only the fruit bearing varieties.

Pear – Slightly sweet, woodsy flavor. Good with pork and chicken.

Walnut – A very heavy smoke, best when used with milder woods. Good with beef.

Almond – A nutty and sweet flavor, and fairly mild. Good with most meat.

Acacia – From the same family as mesquite, but a bit milder. Good with most meat.

Ash – Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

Grapevines – Becoming increasingly popular in California, does well on fish and poultry.

Citrus – Becoming increasingly popular especially in Florida, is the use of the wood from Orange trees, Grapefruit trees, and Lemon trees. Citrus wood imparts a mild fruity smoke, which works pretty well on almost all meats.

Australian Pine – The folks in South Florida are starting to use a wood called the Australian Pine. This tree is not from the Pine family but gets its name more so from its needle like leaves. I believe this tree is taking over South Florida and they are finding whatever use they can for it. However, its been reported to me to be a decent smoking wood. Could this be the next mesquite? I don’t know, but I will wait to hear more before trying myself.

Onion Skins and Garlic Skins – I have never tried this myself, but I was told to wrap in foil and let smolder rather than direct contact with the flame.

Herbs – Makes sense to use aromatics such as Rosemary, Thyme, and Basil. Make sure to soak them first.

BOURBON MARINATING OR BASTING SAUCE

July 5, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

BOURBON MARINATING OR BASTING SAUCE (pulled fom BBQ List Archive)
BOURBON MARINATING OR BASTING SAUCE
 
2 tablespoons lard (oil can be used, slightly different result)
2 tablespoons, each hot red chili powder and mild red chili powder
1 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
14 ounces tomato puree
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
2-3 drops liquid smokePlace the lard in a large, non reactive saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking for about another 30 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sauce from burning. Allow to rest for at least an hour before using.This is a marinating or basting sauce. To marinate, coat the meat with the sauce and leave in the refrigerator, covered, over night, or about 8 to 12 hours. Continue to baste with the sauce as the meat cooks. It’s NOT a table sauce, but works best when cooked into the meat. Best with pork or beef.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

PORK RUB

July 5, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A Pork Rub by R Mailey
A Pork Rub
 
3 tbsp Brown Sugar
4 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Thyme Powder
1 tsp Sage
1 tsp Coriander Powder

SMOKING THE SHOULDER

July 5, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

 
Pork shoulder is really two cuts of meat, the butt portion or “boston butt” and the picnic. Typically the shoulder is used for pulled pork, and rightfully so, if cooked properly this meat will practically pull itself. If you have heard the term “low and slow” it definately applies here. This cut of meat loves time. Ok, lets get started!
Smoking The Shoulder
 
Description: Pork shoulder is really two cuts of meat, the butt portion or “boston butt” and the picnic.Typically the shoulder is used for pulled pork, and rightfully so, if cooked properly this meat will practically pull itself.

If you have heard the term “low and slow” it definately applies here. This cut of meat loves time.

Ok, lets get started!

If I buy a shoulder, I will try to get them to take as much of the skin off as possible, without removing the fat cap.

Its very difficult to use a rub when there is alot of skin.

I like to use my Florida Rub (listed under rub recipe’s). It does a great job on this cut of meat.

1. Thouroughly coat the shoulder with yellow mustard.
2. Liberally cover the meat on all sides with the rub.
3. Let marinate over night covered and refridgerated.
4. I usually soak my hickory chunks over night as well.
5. Bring the smoker up to a temperature between 200 – 225 degrees.
6. Place shoulder on V-Rack in drip pan (BGE), or directly on the rack in water smokers and offsets, and place it in the smoker (make sure you add your wood chunks to the fire).
7. Smoke the shoulder for about 75 to 90 minutes per pound, depending on what temperature you are cooking at, type of pit, and the physical size of the piece of meat
8. About half way through the cook, remove the shoulder from the smoker and wrap in heavy aluminum foil.
9. Either place it back into the smoker, or in the oven at 225 degrees.
10. Let cook wrapped until the internal temp reaches 194 to 200.
11. When finished, let stand wrapped for about 10 to 20 minutes, and then start pulling it apart.
12. Now its time to add a finishing sauce, I like to use the Vaunted Vinegar sauce (from Smoke and Spice), or STUBB’s spicy.
13. Place back into the oven at 200 degrees covered for 30 to 60 minutes.
14. Remove from the oven and serve

This should make you a hit at any party.

Cooking times will vary based on the type of smoker you are using. Make sure to read the manual.

What is the best “1st” smoker?

July 5, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

wsmWell, you have been grilling for years. But, you want to make some of that great pulled pork like your buddy does with his smoker. And, maybe a smoked turkey for the holidays would be nice.

So, what is the best smoker to buy to get started?

There is no perfect answer except, “It Depends”.

You must ask and answer the following questions to start your search for that perfect smoker for you.

  1. How many people to you intend to feed, both routinely and on those special occasions?
  2. Would you like an “easy to use” approach to smoking? Or, are you interested in the ancient art of fire tending and long nights around the smoker?
  3. Finally, the big question. What is your budget?

Let me take you through a brief tour of the different types of smokers on the market today.  There is plenty of variety and you should find one that is best for you. For each type, I will list the most commonly discussed “Pros and Cons” for each genre.

I will be using a term throughout this discussion that needs to be defined now. A “charcoal basket” is a simple box, normally made of expanded metal or something similar. This basket holds a good supply of charcoal and wood chunks. A small amount of charcoal is lit and then spreads slowly through the supply. The burn rate is controlled by restricting the airflow.

With that out of the way, let’s proceed through the smoker types.

“OFFSET FIREBOX” SMOKERS

These are the “traditional” smokers with a separate chamber for the fire and one for the smoking area. The fire can be pure logs (sticks) or may be charcoal in a basket. Sizes and prices run the gamut from the inexpensive sheet metal ones found at the big-box stores through custom trailer rigs that cost many thousands of dollars.

PROS

Offsets are “sexy” and traditional. If you say “BBQ Smoker”, most people have a mental image of an offset firebox design.

Offsets have produced fantastic BBQ for decades. Lots of smoke flavor and the legendary “smoke ring” are common.

Offsets are dependable and relatively low maintenance. No electricity required and no real moving parts unless it is a rotisserie unit. Normally, keeping the smoker rust free, clean, and lubricated is about all the routine care required.

Offsets require the highest level of fire management skills. Many cooks consider this a badge of distinction as a “Pitmaster”. Maintaining a relatively constant cooking temp is an art form requiring frequent attention throughout the cooking cycle. This may be considered a great time to just “enjoy friends and life”, and maybe enjoy a few adult beverages.

CONS

Offsets require the highest level of fire management skills. Sound familiar?  The learning curve for fire management can be steep and long, depending on the smoker used. I personally started with a “Bandera”. It is an offset with a vertical smoke chamber made of sheet metal. I had excellent guidance on fire management, but it still was a trick to learn. I loved my Bandera, but grew weary of tending the fire every 45 minutes or so. I built a basket and that helped.

Offsets, small horizontal ones in particular, have a “hot spot” by the firebox end. Temps can be 50+ degrees hotter there. Some cooks build a baffle to even out the heat. Some cooks learn to use the difference to their advantage. But, the hot end can significantly reduce the usable cooking area in many cases. As the smoke chamber grows larger, the influence of the hot area diminishes, but the purchase price goes up exponentially. 

CABINET STYLE SMOKERS

These are the smokers that just look like a box with one or more doors on the front. The fire or heat source is located below the meat and is normally charcoal. However, the heat source may be propane or electric with small pieces of wood used for flavor. All heat sources work fine and produce excellent BBQ.

PROS

Cabinet Style units normally have relatively even heat distribution throughout the smoke box. Not perfect, but pretty even on most units.

Cabinet Style units normally enjoy long burn times at relatively constant temperatures. The ones that burn charcoal normally use some form of a basket or a gravity feed system to control the burn and keep the temperatures even for a few hours up to “many” hours of unattended smoking.

 CONS

Cabinet Style units work best if they are insulated. This means that this style with insulation may cost more that the lowest priced Offsets and some other styles.

 BULLET STYLE SMOKERS

These are the “cute” little smokers that look like R2D2 from Star Wars. They produce heat and smoke similar to Cabinet Style cookers, bur are round. Many, many cooks started with one of these. The “major player” in this genre is the Weber Smokey Mountain. I proudly owned one of these for over 2 years. I miss it sometimes.

The Pros and Cons are similar to the Cabinet style except they tend to be a single layer of steel and much more affordable. The WSM is easily the most commonly recommended smoker for a new cook.

 PELLET SMOKERS and GRILLS
These can be cabinet type or resemble an offset cooker; I made them a separate genre because they use a unique fuel—compressed wood pellets. These cookers may be complex with a timing device or a computer to control the pellet feed. Also, they normally have a combustion fan to keep the pellets burning cleanly.

PROS

 

 

Rock solid heat control.

Long burn times of over 20 hours if needed with little or no attention required.

The flavors and types of wood pellets make it easy and relatively inexpensive to create the exact smoke flavor desired. I spend approximately $.50 per hour for pellets in my FEC 100.

Pellets burn very cleanly and it is considered difficult to “over smoke” the product.

CONS

Pellet smokers require electricity to operate the controller and the fans.

Pellet smokers have electrical and mechanical parts that are subject to failure. They have an excellent service history, but most owners keep a few basic repair parts like “drive pins” available.

Pellet smokers are expensive.

 So, this completes my tour of the various types of smokers on the market.

Remember those three questions?

Evaluate your needs first and then start shopping.

Once you determine your needs, feel free to ask here for more information on specific brands.

 Happy smoking.

How the Internet Changed the BBQ Culture

July 4, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Internet BBQThe secrets to juicy and tender barbecue have been closely guarded for many, many years and the art of barbecue has been handed down from father to son and treated as family heirlooms. The rising popularity of the Internet during the past decade has changed the culture of barbecue forever.

In the southeastern region of the country, barbecue usually referred to whole hogs cooked slowly over a fire of coals. Families often had their own recipes for rubs and sauces to go along with their favorite woods for smoking. Gaining access to these secrets wasn’t always easy. Good barbecue recipes were a source of family pride.

When I moved to Dickson, TN from Missouri in 1992, I was invited to help out with a family barbecue. I arrived at about 6 p.m. on Friday evening to find a hog roasting on chicken wire stretched over a metal bed frame. The cooks took turns roasting various meats including ducks, rabbits, and chickens throughout most of the night. There was a lot of conversation, some beer drinking, and a lot of work tending the fire. Periodically they would dab a vinegar marinade mixture on the hog.

After relocating to Florida in 2001, I rediscovered barbecue again. While searching the Internet for grilling tips and a recipe for pulled pork, I found Barbecuen.com and TheBBQForum.com. These websites reopened my eyes and ears to barbecue. About this same time, Food Network started airing various programs featuring barbecue restaurants, festivals, and contests.

A couple of years later, I discovered HomeBBQ.com and met up with Kevin. After a sharing a few e-mails and a couple of cell phone conversations, I drove to Kevin’s to help him break in a brand new Lang reverse flow offset smoker. I attended KCBS events with Kevin and Clara in Brooksville and Lakeland, FL and a few FBA events including the big contest in Sebring, FL. I struck out on my own at the Okeechobee, FL contest and got my first category win at the FBA event in Arcadia, FL in the chicken category. I’ve been preparing my own style of barbecue ever since.

I’ve cooked in KCBS events in Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, and Indiana since those early contest days and I’ve have competed against some of the best teams in the country holding my own with consistent top five overall finishes and several category wins. I’ve started my own web blog about barbecue to help others get started in the hobby and started selling my own spice rub on my personal web site.

Before the Internet Age, my learning curve would have been much, much steeper. However, for those seeking how-to barbecue information these days, championship recipes and techniques are only a few mouse clicks away. For $240, you can order a Weber Smokey Mountain from Amazon.com and have it delivered to your door step. You can spend some time reading the articles and forums and watching videos at VirtualWeberBullet.com or YouTube.com and learn how to use it effectively. There are numerous discussion groups and Forums that will answer any questions you have about specific cuts of meat or specific recipes you want to try out.

HomeBBQ.com is just another example of the vast amount of information provided on the World Wide Web for those that seek it out. I’m honored to have been invited to contribute to the collection of articles and discussions on this site. If you have questions about barbecue or suggestions for future articles, please let me know.

Better Barbecue with Aluminum Foil

July 3, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Aluminum foil is a valuable tool for preparing bbq ribs, pork butts, and brisket. When used correctly, it helps improve consistency and predictability in barbecue preparation.

Some might call it a “crutch”, but for me using aluminum foil is a common sense approach to preparing good barbecue. I’m not currently aware of any bbq contest winners that do not use it in abundance. I’m not saying you can’t win without it, but I’d wager that 95% of all bbq contest champions are using it when they prepare their contest meats.

Here are some examples of how I use it:

For ribs…..I slow cook my baby backs for 2 1/2 hours at 225 degrees. Then I wrap them in a double thickness of foil with the meat side down with three ounces of apple juice or grape juice or a mixture of both, for 1 1/2 hours cooking at 250 degrees. After an hour, I remove the foil, brush on my favorite sauce, and cook for 30 or 40 minutes until the meat starts to pull away gently from the bones.

For pork butts or brisket…I slow cook the pork butts and briskets for 5 hours at 225 degrees and wrap in a double thickness of aluminum foil. I cook them until the internal meat temperature reaches 198 degrees as measured with a meat thermometer.

Using a double thickness of foil prevents the rib bones from puncturing the foil and the juice running out. When cooking bigger pieces of meat like briskets and pork butts, there is a lot of juice and aus jous that collects in the foil. A double thickness helps prevent leakage and preserves the juice for basting the meat later on, if desired.

Aluminum foil is also used as an aid to accelerate the cooking process. A pork butt or brisket cooked without using aluminum foil can take two or three hours longer to cook. It also makes a good disposable surface for preparing meats. At contests when water isn’t readily available at my cooksite, I sometimes spread a sheet of foil over my cutting board when injecting the larger cuts of meats. When finished, I simply fold up the foil and throw it away.

BBQ Tips

June 29, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a new barbecue cook or new to bbq contests, here are a few BBQ tips to shorten your learning curve. When I was starting these tips were shared with me and I share them with new cooks every chance I get.

How to keep BBQ hot if you’re not quite ready to eat it…use an ice chest/ice cooler. Put some hot water in an empty ice chest, close the lid and let it set for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain the hot water and you’ve got yourself a portable BBQ warmer. We’ve kept pork butts warm this way for 6 or 7 hours.

How to keep your hands clean when cooking BBQ…use powder free latex gloves. They come in packs of 100 at the local Sam’s Club and will keep your hands clean. You’ll maintain good sanitary practices too. Many bbq sanctioning bodies require the use of gloves when preparing contest entries.

How to keep your spouse interested in the BBQ hobby…get him/her involved in it with you. It’s a lot of fun. You meet nice people and it’s something you can do together.

How to keep your BBQ expenses in line with your budget…research all your purchases thoroughly. Make sure your purchase will do what you want it to do BEFORE you purchase it. For example, if you want to learn to cook whole hogs, you probably need to consider a big cooker or if you want to cook 10-15 racks spare ribs every weekend you’re going to need something bigger than a WSM.

How to continually improve your BBQ recipes…keep records of your cooking efforts including cook times, prepping techniques used and especially measurements for sauces or rubs and spices used. When you tweak the recipe for taste, only change one thing at a time–change the cook time, change the rub, change the sauce, but try to avoid completely changing everything all at once. Small changes to your technique and recipes will help you focus on the effects better and you’ll be able to fine tune the product quality more efficiently.

SWEET AND SPICY BONE-IN PORK LOIN ROAST

June 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

HomeBBQ.com

This recipe uses the HomeBBQ.com Old Florida Key Lime Jerk Seasoning, and a Cider Vinegar Marinade. Its real good, let us know what you think.

Items Needed:
2 – 3 lb Bone-in Pork loin roast
1 Jar of HomeBBQ.com Old Florida Key Lime Jerk Seasoning

Marinade Ingredients:
2 cups of Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

Mix Marinade Ingredients in non-reactive bowl. Place pork roast and Marinade in a sealed container or plastic bag, and let marinate for a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 2 hours.

Remove the pork roast from the marinade, and discard the marinade.

Season pork roast liberally with HomeBBQ.com Old Florida Key Lime Jerk Seasoning.

Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking.

This roast needs to be cooked indirect at a temperature of 350 degrees for approx. 20-25 minutes per pound. The internal temp of the roast when finished should be 150-155 degrees.

After removing from heat, let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. This will let the juices settle inside the roast.

This recipe can be used for cooking in the oven, smoker or grill.

Enjoy!

GRILLED SWEET ORANGE PORK TENDERLOIN

June 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

HomeBBQ.com

This recipe uses HomeBBQ.com Sweet Orange Habenero Seasoning

Ingredients:
2 – Pork Tenderloins
1 – Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 – Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 – tsp Chopped Garlic
1 – Jar of HomeBBQ.com Sweet Orange Habenero Seasoning

Combine Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, chopped Garlic, and 2 tsp Sweet Orange Habenero Seasoning in a non-reactive bowl.

Place Pork Tenderloins in sealed container, and pour in Vinegar and Oil mixture. Let marinate a minimum of 4 hours, preferrably overnight.

Remove tenderloins from marinade, and season liberally with HomeBBQ.com Sweet Orange Habenero Seasoning. Let stand for 15 minutes. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill Pork Tenderloins over medium-hot fire turning occasionally, for 15 to 25 minutes, until internal temp reaches 155 to 160 degrees.

Remove from heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

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