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Q&A -- Smoking Meat At home

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However, would cooking them in the oven first kind of have an effect of "opening up the meat" so to speak to absorb more smoke flavor (smoking them for no more than an hour?) . . .

No, the meat will not take on as much smoke if you cook it first. However long you smoke it, that stage should come first.

=R=

Thanks ronnie_suburban for the advice. That will definitely be the way I proceed. Gee, I'm getting really excited about this!

Note to self: Get out more often. :laugh:


Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Here's a little photo shoot of my first workout on the Smokin' Pro.  Gorgeous, fun, and delicious!  Next time, lower and slower.  I'll have to look for some fire bricks.  You put them in the fire box, or in the grill/smoker box?  It's the same principle that I use in my oven by keeping the heavy pizza stone in there all the time, to even out the heat - don't know why I didn't think of that for the smoker.  Behold my butt!

Col Klink, thanks so much for your course - couldn't have done it without you.  I'm going to feed the next iteration of this to a bunch of your old buds on the 4th.  We'll lift a glass or two in your general direction before we get our faces all greasy.

Beautiful Butt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Better late than never is my name today.

Anyway, meat should be put on the smoker as cold as possible. I put my meat in the freezer as I get ready to fire up the chimney on my trusty Weber Kettle. It quits absorbing smoke when it gets to about 140 (f) As I recall, the 140 is the outside temp of the meat, not deep down, but I could be wrong.

There are three other topics on the Cooking forum that can be helpful for smoking meat:

Behold My Butt

Smokin' Brisket

and

Baby Back Ribs

Start with this course, and review the other three topics and you will know more than most of those whatevers on FoodTV!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Does anyone care to take a guess as to how much brisket could be smoked on a Weber charcoal grill at the same time? I'll have two grills and will need to feed 40-50 people this Labor Day weekend (they are bringing sides, I think). My guess is that I could get three 8 lb. briskets on between the 2 grills - three halves on each grill.

Should I plan to grill some brats to fill the gap?

Ian

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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.

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Does anyone care to take a guess as to how much brisket could be smoked on a Weber charcoal grill at the same time?  I'll have two grills and will need to feed 40-50 people this Labor Day weekend (they are bringing sides, I think).  My guess is that I could get three 8 lb. briskets on between the 2 grills - three halves on each grill. 

Should I plan to grill some brats to fill the gap?

Ian

On the 22" Weber, my guess is 1 whole brisket per grill. I think you could fit 3 flats on 2 grills, but not whole briskets, which usually range 12-14 pounds and are fairly bulky because of their shape.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Does anyone care to take a guess as to how much brisket could be smoked on a Weber charcoal grill at the same time?  I'll have two grills and will need to feed 40-50 people this Labor Day weekend (they are bringing sides, I think).  My guess is that I could get three 8 lb. briskets on between the 2 grills - three halves on each grill. 

Should I plan to grill some brats to fill the gap?

Ian

On the 22" Weber, my guess is 1 whole brisket per grill. I think you could fit 3 flats on 2 grills, but not whole briskets, which usually range 12-14 pounds and are fairly bulky because of their shape.

=R=

Yes, thanks. I was indeed thinking flats - I get them at 6-8 lbs in the cryovac. I saw pictures of whole briskets on, that's what got me thinking that I could do 3 at a time if I just did the flats.

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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.

Too true. And given the success of the last brisket, the adults might start crying too if they can't get the brisket when they want it.

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.

Yikes - brisket right above the coals? That seems problematic: because one part is above the coals I'll have to rotate more often. Because I rotate more often the cooking time will increase because I'll be opening the grill all the time. Maybe I'm better off just doing 2 briskets, and doing brats/burgers etc. for the rest of it.

Ian

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I got one 19 lb. brisket on my one Weber Kettle. I had to cut it in half, separating the flat and the point, and did have room to stick some chicken thighs in between them. Points take up less room, in an odd sort of way, because they are thicker, provide more meat. Anyway you can get more points than flats? What about smoking one a day in advance? They reheat beautifully wrapped in foil in a low, slow oven.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Yikes - brisket right above the coals?  That seems problematic: because one part is above the coals I'll have to rotate more often.  Because I rotate more often the cooking time will increase because I'll be opening the grill all the time.  Maybe I'm better off just doing 2 briskets, and doing brats/burgers etc. for the rest of it.

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.


Edited by col klink (log)

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I got one 19 lb. brisket on my one Weber Kettle.  I had to cut it in half, separating the flat and the point, and did have room to stick some chicken thighs in between them.  Points take up less room, in an odd sort of way, because they are thicker, provide more meat.  Anyway you can get more points than flats?  What about smoking one a day in advance?  They reheat beautifully wrapped in foil in a low, slow oven.

Maybe I'll just try to get 2 rather big briskets, and plan to do some "side meats" - probably not goat or rabbit though, probably something more traditional for this midwestern crowd. Chicken might be nice to do - it can roast/grill while the brisket sits wrapped in AL foil in a cooler.

As for smoking the brisket ahead of time, I think I'd cry if I drank beer all day, smoking meat, without having a full-fledged bbq immediately afterwards.

Ian

edit: typo


Edited by ianeccleston (log)

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Has anyone ever used a propane-fired smoker? The one I'm thinking of has a metal chamber just like any of the others, but the whole thing is designed to sit on a gigantic high-powered burner like the ones for turkey frying (or like my husband uses when he makes beer). You put wood chunks in the bottom, and turn on the burner only long enough to get the wood smokin' hot. Then once that's happened, you can turn the burner off. If you need to reload, you just fire the burner again.

I'm drawn to this approach for a couple of reasons. First, we always have propane on hand, both for our Weber grill and for the aforementioned beer burner. Second, since we don't have a charcoal grill, we have no reason to keep charcoal on hand, and I'm inclined to stay away from charcoal smokers for that reason.

Are there any downsides to a propane smoker, if you're already highly propane-oriented and charcoal-disinclined?

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Has anyone ever used a propane-fired smoker? The one I'm thinking of has a metal chamber just like any of the others, but the whole thing is designed to sit on a gigantic high-powered burner like the ones for turkey frying (or like my husband uses when he makes beer). You put wood chunks in the bottom, and turn on the burner only long enough to get the wood smokin' hot. Then once that's happened, you can turn the burner off. If you need to reload, you just fire the burner again.

I'm drawn to this approach for a couple of reasons. First, we always have propane on hand, both for our Weber grill and for the aforementioned beer burner. Second, since we don't have a charcoal grill, we have no reason to keep charcoal on hand, and I'm inclined to stay away from charcoal smokers for that reason.

Are there any downsides to a propane smoker, if you're already highly propane-oriented and charcoal-disinclined?

MelissaH

I have one and it works extremely well. It produces a well-smoked final product, and provides excellent temperature control during the smoking and cooking. There is also some adjustability to the smoke level: dry chips produce more smoke, more quickly and soaked chips burn more slowly and produce less smoke, albeit a more consistent level of smoke (than dry chips).

This unit is great for many applications but I especially like it for ribs (which require a shorter cooking time than many other foods) and for winter use because it's easier to maintain a consistent temperature than with my "all wood" unit. It also requires a bit less watching over than my "all wood" unit because the temperature is controlled by thermostat -- and it's wholly separate from the smoke producing process. Since most meats stop taking on smoke at about 140 degrees F, there are certain applications where the gas-fired smoker is optimal.

However, when the desired result is something really smoky, it's best to use the "all wood" unit. I do think that it ultimately comes down to personal taste, but the gas-fired smoker is extremely useful and turns out some excellent product.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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For those of you who doubt the power of the Weber kettle:

i503.jpg

A 17lb prime rib roast.

i521.jpg

This image betrays how beautifully red it was.

That prime rib was easily the best beef I've ever had -- I get shivers just thinking about it.

I have a five-pound prime rib I'm thinking of smoking. I know a bit downtopic, it was mentioned that this one was on for about 6-1/2 hours. Any clues as to how long a 5 pounder would take?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I did one last year and it worked out to be 20 to 25 minutes per pound. A five pound roast 1:45 to 2 hours? Let me say I did mine in the WSM at a fairly high temperature for me. I had it around 325 or a little more at the dome. I don't see how a long slow cook helps this kind of meat. I took it off at 115 internal and after 30 minute rest it came up to 127 and it was right were I wanted it.

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I'm liking the look of that smoked Prime Rib. Hey Susan, want to do another smoke together? :biggrin: I'll get myself a boneless prime rib and we can smoke em off on Sat! :biggrin:


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I have a five-pound prime rib I'm thinking of smoking.  I know a bit downtopic, it was mentioned that this one was on for about 6-1/2 hours.  Any clues as to how long a 5 pounder would take?

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.

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Col. Klink, what kind of wood or in my case wood chips, would be appropriate for Prime Rib?


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Question. Upon hearing that I was going to do bacon, my FIL gifted me with a Mr. Meat Smoker (bullet-style) that he bought and used once. He also brought me a whole mess of cured applewood :wub: .

Anyone have any experience with one of these? Or, should I just resort to my trusty Weber Kettle (of which I am a master)?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Col. Klink, what kind of wood or in my case wood chips, would be appropriate for Prime Rib?

My favorite hardwood, which goes quite well with prime rib, is maple. However, Texans prefer post oak. If you've had smoked prime rib in Central Texas, you wouldn't argue with them. Mesquite and Hickory are widely available but they're very strong and can leave almost a chemically like taste. I've been burning through some ash and although it's my favorite for its burn characteristics (long and smooth), it can leave some of the same flavors as the mesquite and hickory.

Fruit woods (apple, cherry, etc.) and alderwood tend to be not not smokey enough for beef, but they are great for poultry and fish. They also tend to be too light for pork.

Typically hardware stores only have mesquite or hickory but you can try calling fireplace/wood fired stove shops as they tend have more variety in wood chips.

edit: this is actual col klink!


Edited by Batgrrrl (log)

"Shameful or not, she harbored a secret wish

for pretty, impractical garments."

Barbara Dawson Smith

*Too Wicked to Love*

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I can't imagine anything larger than 14 or 15 lbs could fit whole in the bullet, but don't quote me on it. Before you go out to buy your turkey, measure you bullet's diameter as well as the height and bring along your measuring tape to the turkey store.

I know a tremendous amount of time has passed since the last post, but I'm new to this thread and wanted to add a couple of ideas.

I've actually done some huge turkeys on my WSM -- up to 30 pounds. The key? Do it vertically using a Spanek or other vertical roaster. You'd need to remove the top grate but anything smaller than an ostrich should fit. In fact, as I love vertical roasting, this is the only way I can do a really big bird.

But this now presents another problem: how do you get this sucker off the grill when it's done? With an outside temperture in triple digits and skin that isn't really attached too firmly to the meat, you've basically got a slippery bag of napalm on your hands. So here's what I did: I bought about a three-foot length of very heavy stainless steel chain at my local hardware store, along with a pair of heavy springloaded clips which look like carabiners. I clipped one to each end of the chain and then clipped both to the top of the metal vertical roaster.

When mounting the bird on the roaster, slide the chain up through the body cavity and up through the neck. Tuck all the extra chain into the space of the neck cavity, or leave it out, dangling down the back. Pin the neck skin tightly over the backbone for maximum crispness and place in the WSM.

When done, just lift by the chain. The roaster supports all the weight of the bird with no chance of anything falling off.

For Thanksgiving, when a traditional "Roasted" flavor may be more desirable, I use no wood at all but use huge amounts of charcoal so I can get the WSM up to almost 400 degrees. At this temp a brined bird cooks in an incredible 6 minutes per pound. Of course, I hate dry white meat so I take the bird out as soon as the breast meat reaches 150-155, then let him rest for at least a half-hour. By the time you're ready to carve, the internal temp will have climbed to about 165 so it's beyond safe to eat. And when you remove the whole breast from the carcass (so you can carve against the grain in even slices) you'll be amazed at the amount of juice that has stayed in the bird -- it practically spurts out at you.

Everyone I know has told me it's the best bird they've ever had; they're usually dumbfounded because they think turkey is supposed to be dry.

For what it's worth...

Thanks all, and especially col klink, for this great thread...

ag


Edited by acgold7 (log)

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I have some oak logs (sizable) that I plan to use to smoke some brisket on a Weber kettle this coming 4th of July weekend. Any tips for using logs? It seems like in the course, Klink only suggests chips for the kettle.

Any insight would be appreciated! I've cooked a few brisket on my kettle by now, so am set for the basics. Also, I have a propane ignition on the kettle, and should have a good way to light the logs. I'm hoping that I will not have to saw the logs apart, but I'm starting to think that I will have to in the end.

Thanks,

Ian

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Iam, I've never thought about smoking with oak, so I don't have a clue about the oak.

I know Klink mentioned chips, but I've much prefered chunks along with briquettes.

I do know that I once smoked ribs at the Cabin with only wood, and they were way, way too smokey (yes, it is possible). But, brisket is a whole different animal.

Hmmm. I'm wondering if the temp would be more difficult to control? I know that when I lift the lid to admire and drool over what I'm cooking, the wood chunks are the ones that spurt flames.

Hmmm. Furrowing brow and pondering, I am.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Iam, I've never thought about smoking with oak, so I don't have a clue about the oak.

I know Klink mentioned chips, but I've much prefered chunks along with briquettes.

I do know that I once smoked ribs at the Cabin with only wood, and they were way, way too smokey (yes, it is possible).  But, brisket is a whole different animal.

Hmmm.  I'm wondering if the temp would be more difficult to control?  I know that when I lift the lid to admire and drool over what I'm cooking, the wood chunks are the ones that spurt flames.

Hmmm. Furrowing brow and pondering, I am.

I think I've heard that smoking with oak is more traditional for brisket, even though I've had good results with hickory. This is my first shot at oak. I'm going to put a turkey breast on at some time with oak too - the hickory seemed harsh to me last time I tried smoking turkey.

So, on one hand oak is less assertive than hickory, and on the other hand brisket mops up smoke more than say, a pork shoulder would. And then on your third hand, or on your feet or head or whatever, I'll be using logs instead of chips, which put out more smoke than a few chips/chunks would. Finally, you put this in a kettle, in closer proximity with additional heat, assumably. Hmm.

Should be a good 4th of July weekend. I'm smoking some bacon from the ruhlman/polcyn charcuterie cookbook as well. I'm gonna have to find some apple wood for that...

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I think I've heard that smoking with oak is more traditional for brisket, even though I've had good results with hickory.  This is my first shot at oak.  I'm going to put a turkey breast on at some time with oak too - the hickory seemed harsh to me last time I tried smoking turkey. 

So, on one hand oak is less assertive than hickory, and on the other hand brisket mops up smoke more than say, a pork shoulder would.  And then on your third hand, or on your feet or head or whatever, I'll be using logs instead of chips, which put out more smoke than a few chips/chunks would.  Finally, you put this in a kettle, in closer proximity with additional heat, assumably.  Hmm.

Should be a good 4th of July weekend.  I'm smoking some bacon from the ruhlman/polcyn charcuterie cookbook as well. I'm gonna have to find some apple wood for that...

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.

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