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HomeBBQ.com is in the Jack!

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Jack Daniels Invitational

With only 2 draws in this years drawing HomeBBQ.com was drawn to represent Florida in this years Jack Daniels Invitational World Championship.

Here is the Official Listing from the KCBS Website;

OFFICIAL Jack Daniel’s Draw Winners
September 3, 2009

21st Annual
Jack Daniel’s World Championship
Invitational Barbecue
“The Draw”

AUTOMATICS:
4 Legs UP BBQ, Great Bend, KS, 2008 Jack Daniel’s
Four Men and A Pig, Olathe, KS, 2008 American Royal Open
Blazen BBQ, Hillsboro, TX, HLS&R Barbecue
Sweet Swine O’Mine, Olive Branch, MS, Memphis in May

Pellet Envy, Leawood, KS, Seven + Wins
Bub-Ba-Q, Canton, GA, Seven Wins
Munchin Hog’s @ the Hilton, Prairie Village, KS, Seven Wins
Rhythm ‘n QUE, Phoenix, AZ, Seven Wins
Swamp Boys, Winter Haven, FL, Seven Wins

Boss Hogg Barbecue, Fairbanks, AK, AK State Winner
cancersuckschicago.com, Westmont, IL, AZ State Winner
R2 – BQ, Wantagh, NY, CT State Winner
PA Midnite Smoker, Willow Street, PA, DE State Winner
Cool Smoke, Richmond, VA, DC Winner
“Team Ida Q”, Boise, ID, ID State Winner
I Smell Smoke, Malden, MA, MA/VT State Winner
3 Eyz BBQ, Owings Hills, MD, MD State Winner
I Que, Hopkinton, MA, ME State Winner
Blake’s BBQ, Gilbert, AZ, NV State Winner
Lakeside Smokers, Methuen, MA, NH State Winner
Parrothead Smokers, Dakota Dunes, SD, PA State Winner
Spitfire, Fargo, ND, SD State Winner
Hoochie – Que, Park City, UT, UT State Winner
Just Smokin’ Around, Frederick, MD, WV State Winner
Burnin Bobs Butts n Bones, Morrison, CO, WY
State Winner

CONTEST STATE TEAM NAME HM STATE
AL Wild Bunch Butt Burners, AL
AR Tee Wayne’s Smoking Lipps, LA
CA All Hogs go to Heaven, CA
CO Wild Hogs BBQ, CO
FL HomeBBQ.com, FL
GA Jack’s Old South, GA
IA Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ, IA
IL Ulcer Acres BBQ, IL
IN Shigs In Pit, IN
KS Rubbin It & Lovin It BBQ, KS
KY Monty Pigthon & the Holy Grill, KY
LA QUAU, IL
MI Extreme Roasters, MI
MN The Heat Is On, MN
MO The Pickled Pig, KS
MS Big Boyz Cookin’ Crew, MS
NC Checkered Pig, VA
NE To The Bee BBQ, NE
NJ Lo’ -N- Slo’ BBQ, NJ
NM Naaman’s BBQ, AR
NY lunchmeat, MA
OH Hoosier Crawdaddy, IN
OK STU’S Q BBQ, OK
OR Fat Dad’s Barbeque, OR
SC Chatham Artillery BBQ, GA
TN Music City Pig Pals, TN
TX Redneck Cookers, TX
VA Dizzy Pig , VA
WA Smoke A Fat One BBQ, WA
WI Dr. Porkenstein, WI

HomeBBQ.com Wins FBA Triple Crown Championship

December 15, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

HomeBBQ.com Grand ChampionPerry, FL – The FBA Triple Crown Championship

 

HomeBBQ.com wins Grand Champion in this  first ever Invitational event for the Florida Barbeque Association, that hosted 10 teams from each of the qualifying states of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.

Contest Results are as follows;

 

 

Rank Overall
1 HomeBBQ.com 758.96666
2 Jus-Fer-Fun 758.84999
3 Bub-Ba-Q 755.95001
4 HoocheeQue 751.33336
5 Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Company
6 Forrest’s Fine Foods 747.90001
7 Munchees Smokehouse 747.83333
8 Jacks Old South 746.35001
9 Swamp Boys 743.46665
10 Pork Avenue BBQ 743.13333
11 J & J ‘s southern smokers 742.33335
12 Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 738.78335
13 GB’s BBQ 738.39999
14 Bubba Chuck 738.31667
15 Team Bobby-Q 737.28333
16 Big Papa’s Country Kitchen 735.95000
17 Tiger Creek BBQ 734.95001
18 Fine’ly Ready BBQ 732.59999
19 Red Baron BBQ 728.98333
20 This Butt’s For You 728.08334
21 Big Daddy Q 727.93335
22 The Ross Team 726.41666
23 Kick the Tire, Light the Fire 725.11666
24 Barbeque Crew 723.78334
25 Flirtin’ with Disaster 721.38332
26 DW’s Kountry Cookers 720.46669
27 Mr. Cook’s Portable Smokehouse 710.39998
28 Bethel Smokers 697.54997
29 Kinfolks BBQ 676.69999
Chicken
1 Bubba Chuck 194.54999
2 Team Bobby-Q 194.28333
3 HoocheeQue 192.56668
4 Bub-Ba-Q 192.43334
5 RED BARON BBQ 191.36666
6 Tiger Creek BBQ 190.21668
7 Mr. Cook’s Portable Smokehouse 188.86667
8 Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Company 188.41667
9 HomeBBQ.com 187.65000
10 Munchees Smokehouse 187.06666
Ribs
1 HomeBBQ.com 191.66667
2 Jus-Fer-Fun 191.43334
3 Forrest’s Fine Foods 191.43332
4 HoocheeQue 190.50000
5 Kick the Tire, Light the Fire 189.79999
6 Bub-Ba-Q 189.24999
7 Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Company 188.53333
8 J & J ‘s southern smokers 187.81667
9 Tiger Creek BBQ 187.00000
10 Fine’ly Ready BBQ 186.96666
Pork
1 Jus-Fer-Fun 194.49999
2 Jacks Old South 192.65001
3 Big Papa’s Country Kitchen 190.00000
4 Bub-Ba-Q 188.65001
5 Pork Avenue BBQ 187.40000
6 Munchees Smokehouse 187.26667
7 This Butt’s For You 186.93334
8 HomeBBQ.com 186.49999
9 J & J ‘s southern smokers 186.23333
10 Team Bobby-Q 185.75000

Brisket
1 HomeBBQ.com 193.15000
2 Jacks Old South 192.16668
3 Jus-Fer-Fun 191.44999
4 Swamp Boys 190.56666
5 Pork Avenue BBQ 190.11666
6 Forrest’s Fine Foods 189.50001
7 Mount Dora Bar-B-Que Company 188.61666
8 Big Papa’s Country Kitchen 188.58334
9 Munchees Smokehouse 187.94999
10 GB’s BBQ 187.41666

 

Carne Adovada — A Taste of Heaven

September 24, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

My area of expertise in barbeque is building and maintaining a steady fire that will hold temp for extended periods of time. However, I would like to venture into the realm of recipes for this post. While recipes are not my forté, this is one recipe I developed that I must share.

About three years ago I helped a friend with a project and was taken out to dinner in repayment of the favor. She took me to a place here in Phoenix called Dick’s Hideaway, which is about the coolest restaurant in Phoenix (George W. Bush ate there a couple years ago when he was in town). They specialize in New Mexican cuisine and they do an amazing job with it.

I ordered Carne Adovada, which I had never even heard of before, and I was blown away – I had never in my life eaten anything this good — or this hot. Pork marinated for days in a chile marinade then smoked over a pecan wood fire, cut into cubes and simmered in a chile sauce then slathered with a layer of cheese that has melted down into the sauce — oh, man, that was good eatin’! But what really knocked my socks off was the perfect marriage of pecan wood smoke to the recipe. I truly believe that God created pecan trees just so they could be used to make Carne Adovada.

The next day I began my quest for a recipe. I found many versions of Carne Adovada but none even came close to what I had a Dick’s. So I pulled a little from here – a little from there – and corresponded with a lovely lady in New Mexico and came up with a recipe that not only was like Dick’s, but was actually better.

I have made this many times for many people and every single person has said that it was absolutely the best meal they’ve ever had. My niece said if she had a choice, Carne Adovada is the only thing she’d eat for the rest of her life. I was even invited on a Phoenix cooking show to prepare my recipe on television.Chili Ristra
This recipe calls for dried chilis – the kind you find in a ristra. The finets of these chilis are Hatch Valley chilis grown in Hatch Valley, New Mexico. While other chilis will work just fine – for the best final product use Hatch Valley chilis if you can find them. Typically these chilis are available in mild, medium and hot (medium can be hard to find outside the Southwest). Be sure you use the hot chilis.
The recipe:

CARNE ADOVADA

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.

Big Dan

 

 

 

BBQ Restaurant Consultant

September 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

“Real Wood Smoke Flavor” from a gas grill

August 18, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

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.

Happy Cooking.

TIM

Barbeque Fuels

July 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

charcoalMy name is Dan Colmerauer – aka “Big Dan.” You may know me from my booklet on how to modify a “backyard” offset smoker to make it perform better. The majority of my articles will deal with what goes into building proper fire in your smoker and related topics – but I will diverge from that from time to time. By the way, I will accept questions and comments via e-mail at: screenwriter2@earthlink.net or 2bigdan2@earthlink.net – I try to reply to any and all e-mails but I do not use my computer on weekends and sometimes it may take a day or two before I have time to reply so please be patient.

I am a backyard cooker only — I don’t do catering or cook-offs, etc. I have, however, been barbequing in one form or another for almost 35 years. Originally from Buffalo, New York I was often seen barbequing and grilling even in middle of the biggest snow storms. I now live in Phoenix, Arizona where some days in the summer I swear all you need to do is put the meat in your smoker and wheel the smoker out into the sun. I have a Hondo offset smoker, a Weber Smoky Mountain, a Weber “kettle” grill, and a barrel smoker and I use them all.

Knowing how to build and maintain a fire is the most important part of barbequing. You can have the greatest recipe in the world – buy the best quality meat you can find – yet if you can’t build and maintain a long, steady fire, your final product will suffer.

Today, I’d like to discuss fuel. There are three basic fuels for barbeque: wood, lump charcoal and briquettes.

Typical briquettes are made from powdered charcoal mixed with binders and fillers such as coal dust. Their biggest advantage is an easily controlled, steady fire with very little temperature fluctuation. Their biggest drawback is the large volume of ash produced when burning briquettes. In an offset style smoker the ash will actually build up and snuff out your fire in about 4 hours – not enough time to barbeque much of anything. Plus, there are too many additives that can alter the flavor of the final product for my taste. But, they are inexpensive, readily available, easy to use and certainly can turn out a fairly decent final product.

There are briquettes available (but very hard to find) that are made out of 100% hardwood charcoal and all natural binders. No additives – no strange fillers – just pure 100% hardwood charcoal. I have used Rancher 100% hardwood briquettes and Royal Oak 100% hardwood briquettes and was pleasantly surprised – both at the flavor and the performance. While producing much more ash than lump charcoal, I was still able to maintain a steady 220 for over six hours. And the flavor was a huge improvement over regular briquettes. In an upright “water smoker” such at the Weber Smoky Mountain these are probably the best fuel you can use. I ran mine for over 22 hours with the Rancher briquettes without refueling and still had briquettes left in the smoker to burn. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find either Rancher or Royal Oak 100% hardwood briquettes in over a year.

Natural lump charcoal (sometimes called “charwood”) is my fuel of choice. Lump charcoal is made by burning hardwood in the absence of oxygen. The process burns off all the impurities (creosote, etc.) leaving a final product that is free of all the bad stuff that can ruin the flavor of the meat. It burns hotter than briquettes and a quality lump charcoal will leave very little ash – which means you will achieve a long, steady burning fire which will impart a wonderful “woodsy” flavor to the meat with a nice touch of smoke. There are a large number of brands of lump available – some not much better than briquettes and others darned near the “holy grail” of barbeque fuel. Hopefully, you will have a good brand available in your area.

The ability to use wood as a fuel is seen by many as the hallmark of the true pitmaster. I don’t necessarily agree.

The single most important factor in whether you can successfully use only wood as your fuel source is your smoker. The typical backyard smoker is simply too small to use wood as fuel unless you burn it down to coals first. In fact, many commercial pitmasters (especially in the barbeque belt) will burn the wood down to coals first no matter what type of smoker they have. The reason for this is simple – you want to burn off the impurities before exposing the meat to the smoke.

So — I tried this once. I used over $50 worth of wood – spent six straight hours burning wood and shoveling coals and the ribs came out tasting exactly like they did with lump charcoal. Some Internet research revealed what has since become my mantra: a glowing lump of hardwood charcoal is IDENTICAL to a glowing coal/ember burned down from logs. The only difference is how it got there.

Interestingly enough – at the more recent bbq cook-offs I’ve attended (I do love to eat good ‘que) I’ve noticed that most of the competitors were using lump charcoal in even the biggest of smokers because —- a glowing lump of hardwood charcoal is IDENTICAL to a glowing coal/ember burned down from logs.

Now, what about wood chunks or chips for added smoke flavor. They work, but you have to be very careful because there is a very fine line between a little extra smoke flavor and over-smoked, creosote-coated meat. Cross that line and you’ve ruined a nice hunk of meat (unless, of course, you like the flavor of creosote). This is more of a problem in the offset smokers than with the uprights. The man in Phoenix who sells cooking wood to all the local restaurants taught me a neat trick if you like to use chunks or chips for a stronger smoke flavor. Simply take a piece of heavy duty foil and gently place it on top of the meat – don’t “tent” it and don’t “wrap” it – just gently lay it on top. The foil will catch most of the bad stuff before it settles on the meat leaving the meat exposed to the remaining flavorful part of the smoke.

Next time I’ll discuss exactly how to build a fire using the Minion method for a long, steady fire.

For now….

Keep on cookin’!

Big Dan

Is My Barbecue Ready Yet? – Cooking Beef Brisket

July 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

brisketBy Kevin Bevington
Now that we have our rub, the right equipment, and we are able to control a consistent temperature, we are ready to attempt the toughest meat to cook, Beef Brisket. Lets first discuss how to select the meat you are about to cook. Beef Brisket can typically be sold in 3 different size cuts.

First, is the whole packer cut, this whole cut includes the 2 very distinctly different muscles that make up the entire cut, you have the flat which would be considered the flat long piece of meat, the point, which includes the nose end, and the meat layer underneath the flat, which is separated by a layer of fat which is also known as a deckle layer. The whole packer cut is the most desirable cut to cook in your smoker, the main reason being, the tremendous amount of fat that can be left on this cut to give it plenty of moisture to draw from while cooking.

Read more

Smoking Techniques

July 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Smoking Techniques

Introduction
First, know your equipment, each and every smoker is different; there are hot and cold spots inside the smoker. The larger the smoker, the more hot and cold spots there will be. Weather is a big factor during smoking, the pit will smoke differently in high and low humidity. Wind and temperature will also affect smoking. On a cold day, you will end up using more fuel than a hot day. On a windy day you will need to limit your airflow or your pit will most likely run hot (remember: more air = more heat, less air = less heat).

Fresh ingredients, and proper food handling guidelines are a must. Smoked meats are exposed to bacteria more so than any other cooking process. If you have questions regarding proper food handling, check the article here. It is imperative that proper food handling practices be followed.

Building The Fire
There are many out there that have great fire building techniques, and you should use what you are comfortable with. I will share mine as well:
I only use real Hardwood Lump Charcoal. This can be a little hard to find depending on where you are. If lump charcoal is difficult to find then regular briquette can be used, just make sure it is made out of hardwood, without lighter fluid.

A very popular method is to use a chimney starter. If you will be primarily using charcoal for your heat source, then I recommend using one of these to start and burn down new charcoal before adding it to your pit. There is a great tutorial on using a chimney starter on The Virtual Weber Bullet web site located here http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/chimney.html

In my large offset pit, I use lump charcoal to heat it up, and wood for cooking. In most pits you will need to use mostly charcoal, and then use some wood chunks or chips for flavor. A good rule of thumb is 95% charcoal to 5% dry wood chunks. If you are using wood chunks or chips that have been soaked in water do not add them until you are ready to cook. Also, you will only need a couple of wood chunks if you are soaking them first, or a small handful of wood chips. To light the fire I use a fire starter stick. I have also used a gel fire starter, I never use lighter fluid, and it has a tendency to flavor the meat. When using the gel I put my charcoal in and leave about a 3 to 5 inch gully in the middle where I put the gel fire starter. If you use the stick fire starter, then place pieces of the stick into the sides of the charcoal pile. Make sure you can see the edge of the stick so you can light it! At this point you need full airflow through your smoker. Both chimney vent, and the firebox air vents should be wide open. Then light the gel or stick and close the lid/door, within 15 minutes (small cookers) and up to 60 minutes (large cookers) you should be ready to cook. On most smokers the ideal cooking temperature will be between 220 – 250 degrees.

If it’s a windy day keep your air vents near closed. Remember more air, increased temperature. On some of the water smokers, you may even close the air vent completely. Typically there is more than enough air coming from the bottom and sides of the smoker. In an offset air leakage into the cooking chamber through the doors can give a convection type effect. Increasing the air draw from the firebox. In controlling your fire, there is no substitute to knowing how to control airflow in your smoker.

Another method is becoming increasingly popular to increase burn times and to bring the cooker up to temp slower and more accurately. This method is now popularly known as “The Minion Method”, so named after Jim Minion a competition cook who perfected this method on his WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain). This method starts with stacking a large quantity of un-lit charcoal in your cooker, then using chimney starter burn a relatively small amount of charcoal, then adding it on top of the pile of un-lit charcoal. The remaining charcoal will start and burn slowly throughout the cook. It will take many hours to burn through your charcoal this way. This method is extremely useful if using forced draft temp control, such as the BBQ Guru. The BBQ Guru will bring the cooker up to temp, and only burn what it needs throughout the cook.

Seasoning a New Pit
A new BBQ pit should be seasoned like a new iron skillet. It is suggested by most manufacturers to rub the inside of the pit with a vegetable cooking oil, but actually some even use lard. Then light the pit and bring the cooking chamber up to about 220 degrees. Cut the airflow in the pit to about 1/2 and let it smoke. A few hours is good, the longer the better. Another good idea is to spray or rub the oil at the joints of where the firebox meets the cooking chamber. This will help you keep the paint in those spots.

Cooking Times
Here are a few quick guidelines on cooking times. Cooking times will be relative to the temperature you are cooking at, the physical size of the piece of meat, air flow (convection effect) through the cooker, etc. This is only a guide, start with these and adjust based on your cooker.
Pork ribs – a good starting point is 60 minutes per pound.
Pork shoulder – a good starting point is 75 to 80 minutes per pound, with the second half of the cooking time wrapped in foil.
Chicken – 45 to 60 minutes per pound.
Beef Brisket – a good starting point is 65 to 75 minutes per pound with the second half of the cook wrapped in foil. (Cook brisket until the flat portion is fork tender)

Using Foil
Using aluminum foil during the cooking process is a very controversial topic amongst bbq experts. Using foil on fibrous pieces of meat will have the following benefits:

Decreased Cooking Time – Using foil on fibrous cuts such as pork shoulder, or beef brisket will aid in collagen breakdown resulting in less cooking time.

Limit Smoke Absorption – Smoke should be viewed as a spice. You want to achieve the right amount of smoke flavor. Wrapping your meat half way or 3/4 of the way through cooking will limit the amount of time the meat is exposed to smoke.

Some view this as a crutch, and others (including myself) view it as a very necessary part of the cooking process.

The Water Pan Myth
The use of a water pan in upright water smokers, and in some offsets has been thought to add moisture to the air surrounding the meat. In the old smoke house days when meats were smoked for days at low temperatures, this was definitely a possibility. The reality is that at temperatures of 220+ degrees, the air will not hold the moisture. The water will actually end up on your meat, and can result in ash and soot sticking to the surface of the meat. Water used in smokers is to aid in temperature control of the cooking chamber.

Many have started using sand in place of water, which will actually help in the fuel efficiency of your smoker. Keep in mind that it is very easy to burn up a piece of meat using sand in place of water, and you should know your smoker before you try this.

 

Modifying the Typical Backyard Off-set Style Smoker

July 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Hondo SmokerBought my Hondo over ten years ago and really struggled to get good ‘cue. I researched and researched and bought book after book but still struggled. I was ready to spend big bucks to purchase a fancy rig – or even get one custom made – I Was that frustrated.

But before I did, I used my research to make the following modifications, and my problems disappeared. Then I tried a fire-building technique in addition to the modifications and was finally able to maintain an absolutely steady 220 degrees for 6 to 10 hours with ease. I was thrilled!

Nearly all the “backyard” offset smokers (typically those that sell for under $750) need these modifications. The only exception that I am aware of is the new model Bar-B-Chef

sold by Barbeques Galore.

These modifications are inexpensive and easy yet they work wonders. Try them and see if they don’t work for you, too.

 First the Modifications

 Stuff to Get        

Go to your local home improvement or building supply store and get the following:

1. One roll of aluminum flashing for the chimney.

2. One piece of unpainted, non-galvanized 22 to 16 gauge light steel for the baffle.

3. Pipe plug or metal cap to fill the thermometer hole.

4. If you don’t have one, you will need either a 3/4″ drill bit or a 3/4″ hole cutter.

 

Lower the Position of the Temperature Gauge!

This is critical. You want to measure the cooking temperature at the grill level, not at the top of the cooking chamber. Heat rises, and the temperature reading with the temperature gauge in its original position will give you a reading up to 80 degrees higher than the temp at which you are actually cooking. 1. Remove the existing temperature gauge. The hole is 3/4″ in diameter. Fill the hole with a pipe plug or a metal cap.

2. With an electric drill and 3/4″ drill bit or 3/4″ hole cutter, drill or cut a new hole a little to the side of the handle (if your firebox is mounted on the left side – if your firebox is mounted on the right side, you want to put the new hole to the left of the handle) and remount the temperature gauge in the new hole.

Note: Another option is to purchase a digital, remote temperature gauge. This eliminates the need for drilling a new hole. Get a small block of hardwood and drill a hole all the way through. Insert the probe of the remote temperature gauge through the hole so that 1″ to 1½ “ of the end of the probe is exposed. You can then place the probe anywhere in the cooking chamber and obtain a very accurate reading.

Improve the Chimney, by lowering it Toward the Cooking Grate

This modification will improve heat retention, helps to even out heat distribution and promotes proper heat conduction over the meat.

1. Unroll the aluminum flashing and cut a piece off about a foot to a foot and half in length.

2. Roll the cut piece of flashing into a cylinder about ½” less in diameter than the chimney.

3. Stick the cylinder up inside the chimney from the bottom leaving enough of the flashing exposed so the chimney is about an inch or so above the cooking grate.

4. Let the flashing unroll and it will unroll to the diameter of the chimney.

Insert a Steel Baffle between the Firebox and the Cooking Chamber

This modification serves two purposes. First, it directs heat downward below the grill for much improved heat circulation, which together with the chimney modification dramatically evens out the temperature in the cooking chamber. Second, it acts as a heat shield between the firebox and the meat to eliminate radiant heat so that you are cooking by heat convection only. This prevents the meat from burning before it is done.

1. Cut a piece of the steel wide enough to cover the opening between the fire box and the cooking chamber at its widest point (side-to-side). Make this piece of steel 12″ to 16″ in length (better to be slightly long than slightly short).

2. Line the piece of steel up with the upper bolts that hold the firebox to the cooking chamber and mark the spots. Drill holes to line up with the existing bolts.

3. At a height just below the cooking grate, bend the piece of steel into an “L” shape, but the angle should be less than 90 degrees. You want the end which extends into the cooking chamber to angle slightly downward toward the bottom of the cooking chamber.You want at least 6″ of the steel baffle extending into the cooking chamber (more is better than less).

4. Mount the piece of steel using the existing bolts and nuts, making sure the bottom half

of the “L” extends into the cooking chamber below the cooking grate.

Building a Fire in a Offset Style Smoker

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 produces very little ash. If you don’t use a charcoal basket, you need to find a way to keep the charcoal away from the air intake. Here is a good way

Fill the firebox with charcoal all the way to the lip of the opening between the firebox and the cooking chamber then hollow out every 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 vent 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. The fire will slowly burn down through the pile of charcoal providing a nice, long, steady burn. For a review of the lump charcoals available in your area go to:
http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpindexpage.htm?bag

This site reviews most all available hardwood lump charcoals. The higher the quality charcoal, the longer your burn time. 

It takes some time to learn the individual quirks of your smoker, but if you work with the technique and use the highest quality lump charcoal you will easily get 6-8-10 hours of steady 210-220 degrees. This really does work — I have heard back from hundreds of people who have followed these instructions and all report results just like mine.

I don’t recommend that you use wood as your primary fuel. The backyard sized off-sets have a cooking chamber that is just too small and it is very easy to over-smoke the meat making it taste very bitter and, well, gross. I have been trying for years to figure out why this is and I believe (and others tend to agree) that it is because in order to get the wood to the proper temp to burn off the foul-tasting impurities you will not be able to maintain the low temp required for proper barbequing (remember, low and slow) — the cooking chamber just gets way to hot.

A good brand of lump charcoal will give you a mildly pleasant smoke flavor but if you want it a little stronger, put a few wood chunks around the perimeter of the firebox and let them smolder or wrap them in heavy duty foil and poke a bunch of holes in the top and lay them on top of the charcoal). If you do this, it is a good idea to gently lay a piece of heavy duty foil over the meat (don’t “tent” it and don’t wrap the meat – just gently lay the foil on top of the meat) to prevent creosote from depositing on the meat surface. You only need to do this once or twice during the cooking process — remember, it is very easy to over-smoke in these smaller cookers. I seldom use the wood chunks and I have been told by many people that my ‘que is the best they’ve ever had.Like I said, a good quality lump charcoal should be all you need to turn out “the best ‘que they’ve ever had.”

 

smokermodifications.pdf – Download the document

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.

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