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Smokin' meat


MatthewB
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While of most of my enjoyment of eGullet is spend lurking, I'm compelled to offer thanks for recent inspiration.

Last week, I stumbled on some of the smoked bbq topics. After reading the contributions of col klink, CathyL, & Stone, I purchased a Weber Smokey Mountain.

I fired it up for the first time on Saturday and bbq'd two chickens ("Chicken on a Throne") & a dozen assorted sausages.

How'd it turn out?

Well, this Saturday I'm going to bbq a pork butt for my SO & her parents. Nuff said.

So, thanks again to eGullet's "trio of smoke"! :biggrin:

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Thanks for bringing this up, Matthew. I also owe a debt.

I did a chicken myself on Saturday.

In fact, the grill was going continuously from about 11:00 a.m. to midnight, with various things on and off -- the chicken, some shrimp, asparagus, several heads of garlic, corn, portobello mushrooms, romaine, crab and yes, some pork (country ribs).

What I've learned from these guys about temperature control of both the food and the fire made it simply a series of routine tasks -- nothing like the circus that grilling and smoking were just a few months ago.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Sounds like quite a feast, Dave! And, yes, I agree with you concerning the "teachings" about temperature control. It's great to be a student.

Also, I knew that I would screw up using that "trio of smoke" phrase. Make it a quartet. Thanks =Mark. :smile:

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I also have to thank everyone.

After eating Klink's pulled pork I had to try to make one myself. I put it on at 7:30 this morning and now the internal temperature is at 185. I'm afraid it's going to be done before dinner. Should I wrap it up and put it in a low oven to keep it warm? Or pull it now and reheat it for dinner?

Thanks

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Standard BBQ trick is to wrap in plastic, then wrap in layers of newspaper, then put the whole shebang in a cooler. Will keep this way for 4 to 6 hours.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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The pork butt turned out very good. Klink's had better flavor (more smokey) but the texture of mine was better (probably because his was frozen). I cheated and started it in the oven (had run out of charcoal) so I think that's part of the reason it wasn't as smokey, as well as the fact that I used charcoal and chips insead of wood.. The smoke ring (pink part) was only about 1/2 inch. Overall I was quite pleased though, for a first try. I even had a little for breakfast while I was making my wife her lunch.

This is a great cut of meat to learn smoking with, because it's so cheap. Also, make sure you brine your butt. I didn't worry about the temperature, just kept the heat "low". It took about 8 hours, 2 in the oven and 6 on the grill. Mark's cooler trick worked great, it kept the meat hot for 2 hours.

I'll try to post a pic later.

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I just recently learned how important brining is for even pork shoulder. On Monday I did an impromptu smoking and didn't have time to brine the shoulder overnight so I just threw it on. The larger muscle masses that didn't have a lot of marbling came out dry though the smaller muscle masses with plenty of fat around them came out just fine. It was a pleasant reminder to brine every piece of pork you ever want to smoke.

Congrats on your first shoulder guajolote! Don't forget, not only was the shoulder I sent you frozen, but it was also shipped across the country over three days.

When you say that your shoulder had better texture, how is it better? Did your shoulder have more of a pulled texture? Or was it more like a roast? And where did you find my shoulder in that spectrum? Or was it something else?

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I'm positive it was the freezing/shipping. Klink's was a little mealier, the meat frozen/shipped didn't have same tooth feel. Does this make sense?

I was really surprised at how easy this was. Besides from taking a lot of time there's not much too it. Of course, I wasn't trying to make the perfect pulled que, I just tried to get 80% of the way there, which still is damned good.

Every time I go for to a Cuban restaurant I always order lechon, and mine was as good as any I'd had. Next time I do this I'm going to try it with some Cuban spices.

Edit: The "pullability" or texture of mine was the same as yours. The best part was my wife didn't want the fat or outside black part, so my sandwich consisted totally of fat and black outside part :biggrin:

fc3a68d2.jpg

fc3a68d3.jpg

Edited by guajolote (log)
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Sweet Jeebus, Gua! That pork looks absolutely tarry on the outside! :blink:

Did it taste as smoky as it looks?

(Right click on the Imagestaion error image and click "Properties", then paste the URL into a browser window to see the pics)

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid6...d2.jpg.orig.jpg

Or copy and paste the above URL into your browser.

I tend to go for an hour of smoke and then more time at low temp without smoke, and I'm not so picky about where the last few hours of cooking take place. Grill, smoker, oven, whatever ya got.

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Quick question . . .

1/2 pork butt (4.4 pds) has been on for 4 hours. Cooker temp is steady at 230*F (at the grate) and pork is at 150*F. So far so good, I believe.

However, part of the pork is not completely covered with fat on the "fatty side." (Fatty side is up.) The non-fatty part is looking a bit dry. I was not planning on mopping or basting as I'm using a Weber Smoky Mountain with a full water pan.

Should I mop or baste? Or is it normal for the outside non-fatty exterior to look somewhat dry?

More later but advice/suggestions now would be appreciated. :smile:

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Too late for advice, but how did it turn out Matthew? There is  so much fat in the butt I think you'd have to cook to about 220 internally to dry it out.

Interesting that on a smoking thread we get a happy b'day for James Brown. BTW, I think he just turned 70. This means he'll be around just that much longer. I feel good.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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quajolote,

As far as how it turned out . . .

Overall, quite well given that the SO & her parents enjoyed it.

However, I thought the pork butt was a bit drier than I'd hoped and it didn't "pull" very easily.

On reflection, might the following how contributed to my slight disatisfaction?

1. I cooked until the meat was at 180*F. Should I have waited until 190*F?

2. I marinated in 2 cups brewed coffee, 2 cups cider vinegar, & half cup molasses. Should I have brined?

3. The last hour I increased the cooker temp--at the grate--to 255*F in order to get dinner on the table--it was 7:15 pm when the meat hit 180*F. (The SO's parents like to eat dinner at 6 pm & they're not big drinkers. So I couldn't just ply them with wine in hope of their losing track of their appetites.) Might the higher temp have been a no-no?

4. Might it have been something else that I erred on?

BTW, I smoked salmon before the pork. (And a dozen kielbasa after the pork. Mmmmm, smoked kielbasa for breakfast this morning!) The salmon was a pound fillet cut into 8 pieces and marinated overnight in an Asian-style sake marinate. Served it as an app last night--shreaded over sliced baguette spread with homemade creme fraiche. That rocked!

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I cheated and started it in the oven (had run out of charcoal) so I think that's part of the reason it wasn't as smokey, as well as the fact that I used charcoal and chips insead of wood.. The smoke ring (pink part) was only about 1/2 inch.

One thing to note, meat tends to take on more smoke flavor early on when the surface is still somewhat cool. After about an hour and a half the meat will no longer absorb much in the way of smoke flavor, and tars and creosote may accumulate if the smoke is too heavy.

If you feel you may not have enough charcoal or other fuel to sustain the whole session it is better advised that you start the meat in the smoker to get the most flavor, then if you need to, finish it off in the oven.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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On reflection, might the following how contributed to my slight disatisfaction?

1.  I cooked until the meat was at 180*F.  Should I have waited until 190*F?

2.  I marinated in 2 cups brewed coffee, 2 cups cider vinegar, & half cup molasses.  Should I have brined?

3.  The last hour I increased the cooker temp--at the grate--to 255*F in order to get dinner on the table--it was 7:15 pm when the meat hit 180*F.  (The SO's parents like to eat dinner at 6 pm & they're not big drinkers.  So I couldn't just ply them with wine in hope of their losing track of their appetites.)  Might the higher temp have been a no-no?

4.  Might it have been something else that I erred on?

Short answer yes.

However

1. Depends. If you want pulled pork then yes, but it's more of a matter of time than temperature; you need long slow cooking for the collagen and muscle fibers to break down properly. 4.5 lbs needs closer to 7 hours to hit a decent "pulled" texture. However, I get better results from larger butts between 7 and 10 lbs and smoked closer to 10 hours. With something as small as yours, you really should mop it as well because it won't contain enough total fat.

2. By all means yes, brine and brine often.. Coffee isn't bad but when I tried it it really didn't do much for me so I didn't think it was worth the effort. Molasses is good, given enough time you can get some ham flavors in there. Vinegar on the other hand doesn't add much for flavor but it detrimental to texture. I used to use vinegar all of the time but removing it from my brines I realize it gives a chewiness to the meat, almost a rubbery texture that's slight, but noticable. I've read that this can break an otherwise prize winning bbq entry.

3. The higher temperature didn't kill you here, like I said above, it was lack of time in the smoker that did it. However, that's only if you wanted pulled pork. Often times I prefer more of the "roasted" texture, something that doesn't fall apart which can still be very smokey and very juicy. For that texture though even 180 is overkill, 160 is enough to fully cook pork but 145~150 is what I like for a "roast" style pork.

4. Not really, longer time over a just lower temperature is what you want for pulled pork The dryness was because of not brining and not mopping, the non-pulled texture was because of not smoking long enough and (possibly) not a large enough cut of shoulder butt.

Hopefully this will help you the next time you smoke a pork butt.

BTW, those kielbasa of yours, did you buy those fresh or did you double smoke them?

edit: btw, =Mark is very right, smoke first then transfer (if you have too).

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col klink,

Thanks much for the feedback. That helps a lot.

Next time, I'll use a brine & a whole butt. (Suggestions on a brine mixture?)

The most important aspect might be aiming for "roast" pork. I, too, stop at 145*F when oven-roasting. I'll try that with the next bbq'd butt.

Might I ask why you favor "roast" over "pulled" when bbq'ing pork butt? Mainly, the juicy factor? (I was assuming that I could turn out juicy "pulled" on my first try.)

As for the kielbasas, they were fresh. I did this last week, too, but with an assortment of sausages. What I'm doing is smoking at about 200*F (at the grate) for ~2 hours. This is giving me a smoke ring about 2/3 to 3/4 into the sausages. Then, if they're not all consumed as "fast food," I'm grilling them over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes (turning once). This "crisps" up the casing. Good stuff.

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The texture I prefer really isn't about what I like but what's best for the meat. For smaller butts where it's really difficult to get the pulled texture, I prefer roasted otherwise you end up with dry and chewy pork.

Those kielbasa of yours sound awful tasty. Did you make them yourself? I've tried making them myself with a modicum of success.

Here's my last diary about it if you're interested.

edit: re: brine. Basic brine recipe. Don't be fooled by folks who throw all sorts of spices and herbs in their brines, they're just wasting a lot of money. Smoking will mask out any of the subtleties they would add.

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I bought the kielbasas at a local grocery where they make sausages themselves.

I'm going to soon try my own hand at making kielbasa. I'm waiting to see if I receive my grandparents' hand-crank meat grinder from their estate. A lot--and I mean a lot--of meat has been ground in that thing. For a time--early & mid 20th century--my grandfather butchered & smoked on his farm and sold to the public.

I so wish that I had my current interests when my grandmother & grandfather were alive & in good health. My mother still loves to tell the story about the cow tail my grandfather gave me when butchering one Sunday afternoon. I took the tail to school the next day for "show & tell." :unsure:

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