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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.

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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 Cialis the Buy Cialis 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.

 

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.

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 les meilleurs casino en ligne cooking top casino en ligne 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

BBQ BEANS

July 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

BBQ Beans4 cans canned pinto beans,including the liquid

Spice Mixture
3 tbls paprika
1 tbls chili power
1 tbls onion powder
1 tbls garlic powder
1 tbls black pepper
1 tbls sea salt, or regular table salt
1 tbls sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or more

Add 2 heaping tablespoons of the spice mixture, place in a cast iron pot. You can use a casserole dish but it will get black from the smoke. Place it uncovered way in the back of your pit and let smoke for a couple of hours. Take it off the pit and stir well tasting them to make sure they have enough smokey flavor, you can stick them back on if you want more smoke. Place a top on the pot and keep warm in a oven or sit the pot on the cover of your pit.

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.

 

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.

All BBQ Needs Is A Good Rub!

June 18, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

herbs-spices

By Kevin Bevington

As the masses begin to uncover their bbq grills and smokers for the season of barbecue and Grilling, many wonder what will set theirs apart from the rest. The answer? A good rub can make a world of difference. Sure, a good barbecue sauce is still a good thing to have to compliment your meal, but the seasoning is the key.

A bbq rub, is commonly referred to as a dry marinade, many times, it can actually bring more flavor to your barbecue than a liquid marinade, especially when used in a similar fashion.
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