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col klink

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  1. col klink

    Steven Shaw

    Oh wow, Steven was way, way too young. eGullet played a vital roll in my life when I joined back in '02 -- it was such a blessing to meet so many great people that also loved food as much as I do. I will be eternally greateful for Steven for such great memories. I distinctly remember him starting his coffee roasting diary which inspired me to start a sausage diary as I tried to figure out how to make true Polish kielbasa. He was upset because he felt my diary trumped his! The man loved his meat. RIP.
  2. I've been experimenting with chuck-eyes for almost six years now and without a doubt, they're my favorite -- they're just as succulent and tender as rib-eyes but they taste like beef. In general, the two most valuable criteria that I look for in a successful steak is beefiness with a good crust and the chuck-eye lends itself well to to that effect. Since these steaks come with a roughly 1" thickness they're perfect for pan searing in the home kitchen. I don't have professional kitchen so I can't get a good crust on a thin steak like you can at a Ruth's, et al. To get even a beefier flavor I do half salt/half MSG rub for up to a couple of hours beforehand. However, if you do the butter baste the effect will be more diluted than without. I've grilled these steaks plenty of times and as enjoyable as that is, I find that I don't get the crust that I can with my skillet. I also find that grilling takes away from the beefiness, or rather, that the steak doesn't stand up to the grilling. Not like a smoked brisket in which smoking brings out the beefiness. But these are just my subjective preferences. For instance, I prefer to use my stainless skillet over my cast iron. I've done the butter basting before too (hint, add an herb to the butter for a subtle flair, c/o Malawry) in which case the cast iron will do better due to the lack of hot spots but in the last couple of years I've been dropping the decadence (dedecadizing) in my steak preparations. Not even dollop of Hope Creamery butter like I used to. So I typically sear to about 3 or 4 minutes a side for a nice medium rare. I've been down the rare road but this cut and its delicious fat can occasionally get difficult to chew and it took me a while to come to grips that it's OK if it's not rare. Side note: Hope butter is life altering -- it has a high fat content like Plugra but when you taste it straight you say "so that's what fresh cream tastes like!" The wife insisted for a long time on using utility butter for things like cookies until I made them with Hope. I proved conclusively that there is no reason to use utility butter which is now referred to as emergency butter. Oh yeah, Hope is only $3.40/lb at the Co-op. Hope Creamery.
  3. Central Texans swear by "post oak" for their brisket and I can easily say I agree with them. For pit smoking (where you use embers instead of a fire) mequite and hickory are good but for smoking in a Weber or side firebox it can be too much. That's when I prefer maple or oak. Fruit trees tend to be less smokey. Lately, I've been using ash and although I love the way it burns, it does't have the best taste. I've even used small logs of it on my Weber kettle -- they're about 1 1/2" to 2" in diameter and not more than 14" long. I'll just throw a log on my coals (lump) and I'm good to go. Basically if it's a hardwood and it won't put out your coals, you can use it. Chips you have to replace more often than chunks and likewise you have to replace chunks more often than a log. But building a log only fire in your Weber might be a pain in the tukhes and more difficult to control the temp. For smoking brisket you want a slow, even heat source and I'm not sure if a kettle has enough air flow to keep the oak lit. Besides, you'd probably have to put too much oak in to the point that the temperature would be too high (anything over 250F is too high). If I were you ian, I'd go with a mixture of coals and oak. You can keep your oak large, but I'd cut up the oak into pieces that allow the coals to continue to burn, i.e. do not cover all of the coals with a single piece of oak. Do you have an axe? It's a helluvalot easier to split oak than saw it.
  4. Hi Susan, an hour and a half to two hours sounds about right. Though if you can keep the temperature low and still keep it smoking, longer is better. Prime rib is one of those cuts that really do well with long, slow smoking to better render the lucious fat (and what little connective tissue) and to pick up a smokier flavor. However, don't leave it in so long as cook it more than rare! Not overcooked is more important than cooking as long as possible. Luckily this cut is tender enough that you can cook it quickly that the meat will suffer, it's just the fat and connective tissue that gets a little stringy.
  5. That would be my suggestion. For big events I'll have "centerpiece" meat/s like brisket and/or pork shoulder and then side meats like goat or rabbit. And just in case twice as many people show up (it's been known to happen), I'll have a ziplock bag of emergency chicken marinating in a hot sauce -- something that can grill up quickly. I usually figure on having at least 1/2 lb of meat per person and then to be on the safe side, make sure there's enough for more people. edit: plus variety is also nice Needless to say, nobody leaves my bbq's hungary. Although I would like to reduce the amount of meat comas I cause.
  6. I would definitely get some brats on the side. Brisket can be fickle on timeliness so it's always safe to have some stuff on the side to quickly grill. Especially if there are kids who can't understand that they need to wait another 45 minutes. You should be able to smoke the three briskets on two Webers but you'll have to pay more attention to them because they will probably take up all of the surface area. You'll probably always have some brisket that is directly above the coals.
  7. col klink

    Rib Trouble...

    Sugar tends to burn in a smoker so I never include it in a mop. By the way, do you mop? Baby back ribs don't have much fat so it's definitely important to mop a lean meat that's in a smoker for a long time. I tend to use a basic mustard vinaigrette -- something acidic to cut through the richness of the pork but also some oil to help the meat out. Also, make sure to brine (1 cup kosher salt to a gallon of water) the ribs too -- it'll make 'em juicier and less susceptable to temp spikes.
  8. I'm w/Ivan. Regular charcoal produces too much ash. Ever since I started using lump I'm far happier -- there's far less ash, it's easier to light and it burns hotter.
  9. Diva, I can honestly say that I've never tried using an indoor smoker and this is the first time I've even heard of an indoor oven/smoker. Is this the one? If so, I'm dubious of it's smoking quality. For smoking to work well, you generate smoke, pass it over food and then expel the smoke. If it stays in one place, it will generate creosote and the six hours spare ribs need is quite a long time for that smoke sit on the food. For shorter periods like a half hour and shorter it's fine, but longer periods you're more likely to develop a really bitter taste. You can try it (and I would be very interested to read about the outcome) but I'd be reluctant to. I'd much rather risk having someone help you spend 3 minutes out of every 20 checking the Weber outside then risk filling the house with smoke (eventually you have to open up that smoker and when you do, where's the smoke going to go?). BTW, smoking on the Weber is just as easy as grilling. You just have a smaller fire and you keep the lid cracked an inch. Webers are great for smoking. Good luck!
  10. By now almost all of the paint has fallen off of my firebox. And at times it has listed and looked quite pathetic. As soon as I'm into the new place I can give it some real TLC. Pretty soon you might need to get a new fire grate if you haven't already. I had a buddy weld up some rebar and that has worked fantastically well for the last 5 years but is now starting to show its age. However, the original grate didn't last a month (albeit under heavy use). The mop in the course photo was specifically for the butt and I probably mopped the brisket too at some point. The finished brisket below that did not take any mopping over the 14 hours it was in the smoker. FYI, a True Texas sauce is no sauce! You will find plenty of Texas 'que joints that serve sauce but they're mostly the chain restaurants and it's a sweet, sweet tomato sauce, or in the case of The County Line - the worst sauce ever. I should make a shout out to The Salt Lick which has a sauce, but it's an Asian inspired mustard based sauce that's quite tasty. Their "Lauren's Habenero BBQ Sauce" is my favorite of theirs and don't be freightened by the habeneros, it's quite a tame sauce -- remember, this is Texas where the heat isn't in the food, it's in the air. Oh, I should mention that I really only throw the sauce on their potato salad unless the meat is dry which is very rare. I agree with snowangel, they're probably referring to grocery store brisket that's been trimmed. If you're going to wrap your brisket in foil, you might as well finish it in the oven (I won't make the sarcastic remark of also adding liquid smoke).
  11. The fire bricks line the fire box. I have four of the thin 1/2" variety, with the thick ones you have hardly any room for fire. Brisket smoked properly doesn't need any sauce of any kind. I'll mop pork but rarely do I mop brisket. That said, if your brisket has been trimmed of its glorious fat (think Samson here), then you do need to mop. In which case I'd basically use a mustard based vinaigrette that's heavy on the oil -- I love the mustard flavor plus it acts as an emulsifier. Just don't add any sugar as it tends to burn next to a fire for 12 hours. If some of your guests can't wrap their heads around not having sauce, which has been known to happen outside of Central Texas, I've heard good things about =Mark's South Caroina Mustard sauce. Like his comments I would lean more towards fresh citrus and a Louisiana hot sauce but would go with a ground mustard instead of prepared. I'd also go light on the sugar -- I can't stand sweet bbq sauces. Don't go without it because you need some to take the harshness off of the tanginess of the lime and the heat of the chilis/hot sauce. Have fun!
  12. Nice work Abra! Those butts progressed exactly as they should have. And great idea with the beans! I'll have to try that. There's also a cabbage recipe that I've been meaning to try for the last two years but I keep forgetting because when I get ready to smoke, all I can think about is meat. Here's the recipe, adapted from "Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook": Take 1 cabbage and core out the base. Add one stick of butter. Wrap in foil. Smoke for 4 hours. When the doc asks why you had a heart attack, you can say it was from eating cabbage!
  13. Why would you boil the bird? They can cook just fine in the smoker. Less time in the smoker = less smokiness. Also, smoked food shouldn't taste bitter. Have you tried smoking with wood rather than sugar? A well smoked chicken or poutry will never see the light of the next day. One thanksgiving my buddies deep fried turkeys, ducks and chickens while I smoked a turkey. People tried to eat the fried birds because they were good but they simply *devoured* the smoked turkey. The only time you'll get bitterness with wood is when you use an overpowering wood with a light meat, i.e. mesquite or hickory with turkey or fish. You know why? It's the fat that traps the smokey flavor. That's why if you smoke a prime rib it'll taste a helluvalot smokier than a filet mignon. Less fat = less smokiness. More fat = more goodness. Not that I'm advocating eating straight fat, but as the fat renders over the meat, that smokiness is imparted to the meat. That's why really fatty meats like pork shoulder, brisket and camal do so well when they're smoked.
  14. Any temp above 175 is fine. With ribs I usually go more towards 200 than 225 as I tend to overcook them less. And don't worry about strickly adhearing to a specific temperature -- a 50 degree swing around 225 is the ideal. The only time you really need to worry is when the temp spikes to up to 300+ because then you really start losing moisture. Too early to drink? Remember, it's 5:00 somewhere in the world, don't leave 'em hanging. As for tips: --water tray - not only helps keep your smoker cleaner but it also provides a heat sink. (when the temp spikes to 300, you can add ice cold water) --fireplace bricks - help the fire burn smoother and cleaner, i.e. less spikes and less ashes. --place the next logs on the firebox - for cooler weather smoking, a warm log is quicker to light than a cold one, especially nice when you haven't checked the fire in a while and you find that it's dying. Just be careful, because if it's nice out the log on top of the firebox can light -- see my smoking course for a picture.
  15. You do need to run the smoker meatless for at least three hours. This is not to season the grates but to burn out the protective oil they apply to the steel so that it doesn't rust in the wharehouse or in transit. You can season the grates but it's not necessary. Yes these are cast iron grates but it's not like cooking with a cast iron pan because the temperatures are so low. At the end of a smoking session your grates will be slathered in fat -- so to clean them I throw 'em in the fire the next time I smoke and that completely burns off the previous fat. Unless you're smoking some really delicate fish, you won't have a problem with meat sticking to the grates. Plus, with the hot grates you can put some serious grill marks on the meat (which you won't be able to see when you're done but it sure is fun. )
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