Home > Nom > Secret Ingredient Part II

Secret Ingredient Part II

Just a bit of follow up on the big BBQ from last week. After cleaning out the smoker from a winter’s neglect, and scrubbing this thing top to bottom, we were ready to go.

The first thing we did was take the meat out of the fridge early. Let it get close to room temp. If it goes in the smoker too cold, they say that you could get creosote build up. Even if this isn’t true, I still don’t think you want the outside of the meat to be cooking while the inside is iced cold. 2-3 hours at room temperature for these larger cuts should be just about right.

Then it was time to fire up the chimney. You never want to use lighter fluid to start your coals. The marriage of meat and fire is a holy union. Adding petroleum products is unnatural. It’d be like spiking your chili with kerosene. For smoking or even just for burgers, do yourself and your guests a favor and get a charcoal chimney starter like this one.

The trick is to know your smoker. You eventually get a feel for what size fire you need, and how much air to give it. Remember that more air = hotter fire = quicker your fuel is spent. Try to build a fire that will hold your temp, more or less, at medium air flow. And unless you have a major flare up, only adjust the air flow at the fire-box, and never at the chimney. You do not want smoke sitting in the main chamber of the smoker for a long time. The chimney should remain all the way open.

Once you hit a temperature between 200° and 250° F, the meat goes on and, if you’re doing a large cut like a pork shoulder or a brisket, your job for the next 12 hours or so it to try to keep it in that temperature range. Too high, and the meat will dry out. Too low and it won’t cook properly. Hygiene, hygiene.

Here’s where you can cheat. Since staying up for 12 hours before even lunch is a bit impractical, there is a shortcut you can take. Larger cuts of meat will have absorbed about all the smoke that they’re going to after about 6-7 hours. Anything beyond that point you’re basically using your smoker as a charcoal and/or wood burning oven. And if all you really need is an oven, there’s nothing stopping you from using the one in your kitchen.

Wrap your pork shoulder or brisket in tinfoil. Place in a 250° degree oven. Close off the air flow on your smoker. Set your alarm for about 12 hours from when you first put the food on. Take a nap.

When everything’s done, let the meat rest in the tinfoil for a while. At least an hour. By then it should be about cool enough to handle. Start with a couple of forks and pull that mother apart. Or chop it up with a big knife if that’s what floats your boat. Either way, you’re ready to eat.

Graduation BBQ from Chris McIntyre on Vimeo.

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